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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Bernie Sanders and Ro Khanna take on Big Pharma with new bill that will drastically lower drug costs

Currently, one in five American adults cannot afford to get prescription medication that they need.

In an effort to curb America’s problem of having the highest drug prices in the world, Senators Bernie Sanders and Ro Khanna have proposed new legislation that would attack prescription drug price-gouging.

The Prescription Drug Price Relief Act, which will be introduced at the start of the new Congress, will require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to make sure that Americans don’t pay more for prescription drugs than the median price in five major countries: Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Japan. Additionally, the act provides that the federal government approve cheaper generic versions of drugs in cases where the pharmaceutical manufacturers refuse to lower drug prices below the median price.

“No other country allows pharmaceutical companies to charge any price they want for any reason they want. Somebody in America today can walk into a pharmacy and find out that the medicine they have been using for years can double, triple or quadruple literally overnight. That needs to change,” Sanders stated. “The greed of the prescription drug industry is literally killing Americans and it has got to stop.”

Part of the problem in the United States is that the federal government bestows long-term, exclusive monopolies on pharmaceutical companies. The result is Big Pharma companies are basically immune to market competition and public regulation.

“The government is giving an exclusive monopoly to pharmaceuticals,” Khanna told HuffPost. “If a company abuses that grant by fleecing American consumers, then they lose that privilege, that property grant, that subsidy from the government.”

“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 U.K.,” Khanna says. “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.”
Just one months’ supply of the arthritis treatment Humira costs about $2500 in the United States, nearly 50 percent more than the same supply in Germany and more than double the price in Canada and the U.K. Advair, an asthma medication, is about $150 a month in the U.S., double the price of the same drug in Canada and triple its cost in Japan. Cutting-edge cancer drugs in the U.S. can be thousands of dollars per month more than in other developed countries.
If the new legislation were to become law the median price of brand name prescription drugs could go down by more than 40 percent. When one in five American adults cannot afford to get prescription medication that they need, this new change could be life-saving for millions of people.
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