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Prescription Drug Affordability Act of 2015

The Prescription Drug Affordability Act of 2015

Statement by Sen. Bernard Sanders
September 10, 2015

Thank you all for coming. And let me say a special thanks to Congressman Elijah Cummings.

No one in Congress has done more to lower the outrageously high price of prescription drugs than Congressman Cummings and I thank him for his leadership not only on this issue, but so many others in the House.

We are here today to talk about a huge issue of consequence to the American people. And, that is the fact that the American people pay, by far, the highest prices for prescription drugs in the entire world.

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.

The American people should not have to go without the medication they need because Congress does not have the courage to stand up to the prescription drug industry.

The time has come to say very loudly and very clearly that enough is enough. The greed of the pharmaceutical industry is killing Americans. It has got to stop.

It is time for the United States to join the rest of the industrialized world by implementing prescription drug policies that work for everybody, not just the CEOs of the pharmaceutical industry.

That’s exactly what the legislation that Congressman Cummings and I will be introducing today begins to do.

Specifically:

1. This bill requires Medicare to use its bargaining power to negotiate with the prescription drug companies for better prices – a practice that was banned by law. Not only would this substantially reduce the prices seniors pay for drugs, it could save Medicare over half a trillion dollars over the next decade.

2. This bill would allow individuals, pharmacists, and wholesalers to import prescription drugs from licensed Canadian pharmacies where drug prices are 40 percent lower per person than they are in the U.S.

3. This bill would hold the pharmaceutical industry accountable when they defraud the American people. Today, nearly every major pharmaceutical company has been convicted of either civil or criminal fraud. And even though the Justice Department has won suits requiring them to pay billions in fines, the prescription drug companies simply treat these fines as the cost of doing business. Our bill would say that if a drug company is convicted of fraud, they will lose their market exclusivity on the drugs they sell.

4. This bill would end "pay for delay" – a practice in which brand name prescription drug companies pay other companies not to manufacture cheaper generic drugs. The FTC has estimated that pay for delay is costing consumers and taxpayers about $3.5 billion a year in higher drug prices. That is unacceptable.

5. This bill would demand more transparency from drug companies, who have been concealing the true cost of their research and development.

Let me just conclude my remarks by saying this. I know how hard it will be to pass this legislation. I know how hard it will be to defeat the prescription drug industry. In fact, to my knowledge the prescription drug industry has never 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 to lower prices, the time has come to say enough is enough. We cannot let the drug companies continue to rip-off Americans who are suffering any longer.

http://www.sanders.senate.gov/download/prepared-remarks-on-the-prescript...

Prescription Drug Affordability Act of 2015 (Bill number pending): http://www.sanders.senate.gov/download/text-of-prescription-drug-afforda...

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Comment:

By Don McCanne, MD

When we enact an improved Medicare for all, it would be important for Medicare to have the power to negotiate better drug prices with the prescription drug companies. The Prescription Drug Affordability Act of 2015 would establish that principle, clearing one more hurdle on our way to health care justice for all.