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Bernie Sanders Takes Aim at Prescription Drug Costs

Laura Joszt
Democratic president hopeful Bernie Sanders took aim at the pharmaceutical industry with a new bill that would provide the government with negotiating power, allow the import of lower-cost drugs from Canada, and requires reporting of information that affects drug pricing.
With the American public unhappy with the high cost of drugs, it was expected that prescription drugs would be an important issue for the 2016 presidential campaign. Democratic hopeful Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is taking the first shot with a bill to battle rising prices.

Sanders and Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD) rolled out their drug pricing bill, the Prescription Drug Affordability Act of 2015, which includes tactics like government power to directly negotiate drug prices and full disclosure of R&D and manufacturing costs, profits, and pricing in other countries.

“In the richest country in the history of the world, Americans should not have to live in fear that they will die because they cannot afford to take the life-saving medication they need,” Sanders said in a press conference.

The bill would allow US residents to import lower-cost medications from Canada, close the Medicare Part D donut hole for brand and generic drugs by 2017, restore the minimum rebate on drugs covered under Medicare Part D for low-income Medicare beneficiaries, prohibit anti-competitive arrangements between brand and generic drug makers, and require pharmaceutical companies to publicly report information that affects drug pricing.

The bill is cosponsored by Senator Al Franken (D-MN), and supported by the Alliance for Retired Americans, Social Security Works, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, National Center for Health Research, Public Citizen, Association of Clinicians for the Underserved, and RxRights.

Sanders acknowledged that passing the legislation will be difficult, and said he was unable to recall at time when the prescription drug industry lost a battle on Capitol Hill.

“But at a time when a huge majority of the American people want us to take action, when 74 percent of Republicans and 93 percent of Democrats, want the federal government to negotiate with the drug companies top lower prices, the time has come to say enough is enough,” he said.

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