Alexander, Corker Cosponsor Bill to Restore St. Jude’s Access to Affordable, Life-Saving Drugs

Posted on September 30, 2010

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., are cosponsoring legislation introduced by Senator Scott Brown, R-Mass., that would restore St. Jude’s ability to obtain affordable prescription drugs through a drug discount program administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, a long-standing policy that was terminated by the health care bill signed into law by President Obama in March.

Children’s hospitals were previously eligible to purchase so-called “orphan drugs” – medicines for the treatment of illnesses impacting fewer than 200,000 people – at discounted prices under the Public Health Services Act.  The Brown bill would restore this eligibility, giving stand-alone children’s hospitals like St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis affordable access to some 350 drugs with orphan status. Absent this legislation, St. Jude anticipates $1.5 million per year in added expenses.

“This bill would allow children’s hospitals like St. Jude in Memphis to purchase drugs at a discount to treat the rarest children’s diseases,” Alexander said. “For these hospitals, dollars saved means lives saved.”

“This is likely one of many repeals that will need to be made to mitigate and minimize the unintended consequences and negative effects of the health care bill,” said Corker. “At no cost to taxpayers, this legislation restores the ability of St. Jude and children’s hospitals around the country to obtain affordable medicines for children suffering from rare illnesses.”