Senate progressives have introduced legislation designed to drastically reduce the cost of prescription drugs in the United States.
The legislation would allow the Health and Human Services secretary to align prescription drug prices with the median price in five industrialized countries, as well as allowing the secretary to negotiate for lower prices.
Additionally, the bill would give Americans the option of importing lower-cost medications from Canada and other nations.
“I believe that healthcare is a basic human right. … Americans pay the highest prices to access the drugs in the world, including three times the price of drugs in Great Britain alone. And instead of taking donations from pharmaceutical industry, we need to hold them accountable for taking advantage of the American people. Medications are too expensive, and we must act boldly to lower prices.” — Representative Ilhan Omar
Put forward by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the groundbreaking bill would link American prescription drug prices to lower costs in other countries, preventing the massive upscaling in cost that has so frequently occurred in the U.S.
It would also allow generic brands to compete with patented brand-name drugs that have been designated as “excessively priced,” introducting a market lever that will force pharmaceutical companies with patented medications to level with generic pricing.
HHS would designate a medication as “excessively priced” if the U.S. cost is higher than the median cost in Canada, the U.K., Germany, France and/or Japan.
Another bill within the legislative package allows Medicare to negotiate directly with drugmakers, helping to lower costs by cutting out the middle-men.
Furthermore, the legislation would apply to virtually any U.S. patent-protected brand-name drug, regardless of whether or not government programs are offsetting its costs.
“If the pharmaceutical industry will not end its greed…then we will end it for them.” — Sanders