PIRG says march-in rights should be used to drive down Rx drug prices

Submits comments to make it easier for competitors to license drug patents and compete on price.

Over $100 Billion of federal funds are distributed to outside entities every year to research and develop novel products, including important medicine. The public's rights in those innovations need protection.

PIRG supports a new proposed framework for agencies to march-in on companies selling prescription medications where there is clear failure to make those medicines developed through taxpayer funding available “on reasonable terms.” The march-in right allows the government to license a patent-protected product to a competitor who could compete on price.

We also call for a strengthening of the framework to allow more voices to be heard when agencies decide whether to use their march-in rights. We think the government should allow patients, health plans and government programs like Medicare to weigh in on important factors, such as: 

  • what other countries pay for the medication, 
  • the impact on pricing with the introduction of a competitor/licensee (will it be more reasonably priced?),
  • the overall impact of the current price, including the trend of its recent price increases, on the question of access as it relates to the public health of the patient population relying on that particular medication.
  • The overall impact of the price on, not just the patients needing the medications, but also payers like Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance too, where those high drug prices are paid through our premiums and tax dollars.

You can read our full comments by downloading them at the top left of this article.


Patricia Kelmar

Senior Director, Health Care Campaigns, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Patricia directs the health care campaign work for U.S. PIRG and provides support to our state offices for state-based health initiatives. Her prior roles include senior policy advisor at NJ Health Care Quality Institute, associate state director at AARP New Jersey and consumer advocate at NJPIRG. She was appointed to the Ground Ambulance and Patient Billing Advisory Committee in 2022 and works with patient advocates across the U.S. Patricia enjoys walking along the Potomac River and sharing her love of books with friends and family around the world.