"If the pharmaceutical industry will not end its greed, which is literally killing Americans, then we will end it for them," Independent Senator Sanders said.
United States Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Elijah Cummings introduced legislation Thursday aimed at lowering the cost of prescription drugs for U.S. consumers.
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Democrats have been critical of the Trump administration’s approach to big pharmaceutical companies after President Donald Trump failed to fulfill a campaign promise to bring down drug prices. According to Trump's opposition, his administration's proposals let big drugmakers off the hook and did not do enough to facilitate access to prescription drugs.
The proposed legislation, which has several co-sponsors in the House of Representatives which is now under the Democrat's control, and in the Republican-led Senate, is comprised of three bills that aim to curb drug costs.
"The United States pays by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs," said Senator Sanders. "If the pharmaceutical industry will not end its greed, which is literally killing Americans, then we will end it for them."
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services presented a plan last year to lower drug prices and introduced several modest proposals to curb drug costs. However, Trump has expressed frustration over continued price hikes by drugmakers.
Several pharmaceutical companies temporarily froze prices on select drugs last year. But drugmakers raised prices on more than 250 prescription drugs at the beginning of 2019, including the world's top-selling medicine, AbbVie's Humira, which is used for conditions ranging from arthritis to Chron’s disease.
In response to increased pressure, however, most drugmakers have ended the practice of annually increasing list prices by percentages in the double-digits, keeping most price hikes under 10 percent.
The bill would peg U.S. prescription drug prices to the median price from five countries -Canada, Britain, France, Germany, and Japan- where drug costs are typically far lower because of government regulation.
Its similar to a proposal the Trump administration said it plans to put forth in the coming months that would create an "international pricing index" to help align the cost of prescription drugs for Medicare with that of other countries. Medicare, the government health insurance program, covers more than 40 million older and disabled citizens and residents.
The bill would also allow the U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services (HHS) to negotiate prices in Medicare Part D, a program that helps Medicare beneficiaries pay for self-administered medicines like those purchased at drugstores.
The proposal would also end a ban on buying medicines at lower prices from Canada and other countries. Drugmakers have long argued that price controls in the United States would stifle innovation and that importing drugs from other countries is unsafe.
HHS Services Secretary Alex Azar has been defending the administration's efforts to lower drug prices."(Trump) and I will not stop our work until list prices go down," he wrote on Twitter Wednesday.