Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) along with more than two dozen of their colleagues in the House and Senate introduced sweeping reforms Thursday that would dramatically reduce prescription drug prices in the United States.
The plan to reduce the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs includes three bills:
- The Prescription Drug Price Relief Act, which would peg the price of prescription drugs in the United States to the median price in five major countries: Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Japan;
- The Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act, which would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs under Medicare Part D;
- The Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act, which would allow patients, pharmacists and wholesalers to import safe, affordable medicine from Canada and other major countries.
The Prescription Drug Price Relief Act would lower drug prices in the United States by 50 percent according to Dean Baker. Additionally, the U.S. government could save close to $360 billion over 10 years if Medicare negotiated the same prices for drugs as people in Canada pay, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
“The United States pays by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. This has created a health care crisis in which 1 in 5 American adults cannot afford to get the medicine they need,” Sanders said. “That is why I am introducing legislation to drastically bring down the cost of prescription drugs. If the pharmaceutical industry will not end its greed, which is literally killing Americans, then we will end it for them.”
“These bills are important because it’s time to provide much-needed relief to the American people,” Cummings said. “No more talk. No more tweets. The American people want action. They should not have to decide between paying their bills or paying for their prescriptions. We’re a better country than that. We need real and immediate action to lower drug prices in this country. The American people deserve that, and I will do everything I can to help deliver that for them.”
“There is absolutely no reason for the big pharmaceutical companies to make Americans pay higher prescription drug prices than they charge our friends in Canada, Germany, and the UK. Today we’re sending big pharma a message: market exclusivity is a privilege, and when you abuse that by price gouging the sick and aging, then you lose that privilege,” Khanna said. “This bill will bring down drug prices by taking on monopolies and boosting prescription drug competition.”
President Donald Trump said repeatedly during his campaign that he would take action against drug companies and bring down prices. But in the first seven months of 2018 alone, there were 96 drug price hikes for every price cut. Four major drug manufacturers combined made more than $50 billion in profits last year. In addition, in 2017 1 in 5 Americans reported they did not fill a prescription because of cost.
Meanwhile, in Canada and other major countries, the same medications, manufactured by the same companies, in the same factories are available for a fraction of the price compared to the United States. In 2017, Americans spent $1,208 per person on prescription drugs while Canadians spent $860 and people in the U.K. spent $476.
The measures introduced today are overwhelmingly supported by the American people. Seventy-two percent of Americans favor allowing the importation of prescription drugs from Canada, and 92 percent of the American people support allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.
Cosponsors in the Senate of The Prescription Drug Price Relief Act include Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
Cosponsors in the Senate of The Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act include Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.).
Cosponsors in the Senate of The Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act include Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).
Cosponsors of all three bills in the House include Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Jan Schakowksy (D-Ill.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Joe Neguse (D-Co.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.).