Healthcare is a major focal point of the upcoming presidential election. Vermont Senator and 2020 democratic presidential nominee Bernie Sanders said that if elected, he will introduce a bill that aims to cut prescription drug prices in half. During an interview on CBS Face the Nation, Sanders said America pays the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. The Prescription Drug Price Relief Act of 2019 works to change this.
In January, alongside other democratic political players such as RoCanada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Japan, Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, Sanders introduced the Prescription Drug Price Relief Act of 2019. The legislation aims to lower prescription drug prices for American patients by ending government-granted monopolies for manufacturers who charge drug prices that are higher than the median prices at which the drugs are available in other countries.
“We will look at the average costs of prescription drugs in Canada, the U.K., Germany, Japan and France. We will look at their average costs which are 50 percent lower than they are in the United States,” said Sanders in the CBS interview. “If the pharmaceutical industry, which the five major companies made $50 billion in profits last year, they pay their CEOs outrageous compensation packages, if they don’t like that then we’ll take a look at their patents.”
As outlined, the Prescription Drug Price Relief Act of would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to ensure that Americans don't pay more for prescription drugs than the median price of the five major countries listed by Sanders: Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Japan.
Drug Price Cuts Under the Prescription Drug Relief Act of 2019
• Premarin, for menopause, which currently costs about $165 for a 30-day supply in the U.S., could cost $83. • Januvia, for diabetes, which currently costs about $436 for 30-day supply in the U.S., could cost $218. • Advair Diskus, for asthma and COPD, which currently costs about $390 for a 30-day supply in the U.S., could cost $195. • Xarelto, for blood clots, which currently costs about $432 for a 30-day supply in the U.S., could cost $216. • Lantus, which is insulin for diabetes and currently costs about $387 for a 30-day supply in the U.S., could cost $194. • Humira, for arthritis, which currently costs about $2,770 for a 30-day supply in the U.S., could cost $1,385. • Enbrel, for arthritis, which currently costs about $4,941 for a 30-day supply in the U.S., could cost $2,471. • Ventolin, for asthma, which currently costs about $60 for a 30-day supply in the U.S., could cost $30. • Xtandi, for cancer, which currently costs about $101 for a 30-day supply in the U.S., could cost $51.
According to the bill, government-granted monopolies for excessively priced drugs would be terminated. The legislation also calls for a public comprehensive database of brand name drugs to be established and maintained by the Secretary. In an effort to create transparency, it would list excessive price determinations for such drugs.
Under this bill, each manufacturer would be required to submit an annual report to the Secretary that includes specific information for each brand name drug of the manufacturer such as cumulative global revenues from the drug and the estimated size of the affected patient population. This bill also outlaws anticompetitive behavior by manufacturers.
“If the pharmaceutical industry will not end its greed, which is literally killing Americans, then we will end it for them,” Sanders said in a statement.
The legislation is one of three the democratic party is aggressively pushing to lower prescription drug prices in the United States. A second bill would allow Americans to import lower-priced drugs from abroad and connect the price of prescription drugs in the United States to median drug prices in five countries. The third bill would permit the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower prices for drugs under Medicare Part D directly with drug makers and manufacturers.
Sanders’ website states that the pharmaceutical industry will continue to rip off American patients as long as it can. According to his website, the Prescription Drug Price Relief Act will help save lives and reduce premiums by lowering drug prices.