Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Washington, DC, United States (4E) – House Democrats and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will introduce three new bills in their respective chambers aimed at slashing high prescription drug costs in the United States.
To be introduced Thursday, the bills will allow Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to negotiate lower prices for drugs under Medicare Part D, the federal program for prescription drug benefits.
Democrats listed lowering prescription drug costs as one of their top priorities in their successful drive to regain control of the House. The bills are sponsored by Sanders, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA).
The bills will also allow Americans to import lower priced drugs from abroad and peg the price of prescription drugs in the U.S. to the median price in five major countries:” Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Japan.
“If the pharmaceutical industry will not end its greed, which is literally killing Americans, then we will end it for them.” said Sanders.
“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.”
Lawmakers are pinning the blame for this immoral state of affairs on the pharmaceutical industry, which sells drugs at much higher prices in the U.S. than abroad.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said spending on prescription drugs in the U.S. increased 0.4 percent in 2017 to $333.4 billion.
In their defense, Pharma firms have said America’s rebate system is responsible for driving the price of medicines artificially higher. Rebates are the discounts drugmakers give to middlemen such as pharmacy benefit managers, often in exchange for more favorable insurance coverage for their drugs.
Drugmakers raised prices on more than 250 prescription drugs on Jan. 1, 2018, and are expected to do so again this year.
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