U.S. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, the former mayor of Newark, has joined forces with more than a dozen colleagues in the Senate and House to introduce a three-part plan to cut prescription drug costs in the United States.
On Thursday, Booker joined with fellow U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont to introduce what Booker called “sweeping reforms” aimed at helping people reel in their medical bills.
According to Booker, the plan to reduce the “skyrocketing” cost of prescription drugs includes three bills:
“There is no reason that, in a country as rich as ours, Americans should be choosing between paying for prescription drugs and paying for food and other necessities,” Booker said, offering enthusiastic support for the package of proposed laws.
“And incredibly, despite an enormous tax windfall from the Trump tax cuts, drug manufacturers aren’t lowering prices – they’re issuing stock buybacks to their shareholders and in many cases raising prices,” Booker said. “Congress can’t sit on the sidelines while this is going on. That’s why I’m supporting this comprehensive approach to reduce the growing cost of prescription drugs, including a renewed push to pass our bill to safely import prescription drugs from Canada and other countries.”
Sen. Sanders said that the U.S. 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,” Sanders said. “If the pharmaceutical industry will not end its greed, which is literally killing Americans, then we will end it for them.”
According to the senators, in the first seven months of 2018, there have been 96 drug price hikes for every price cut. Four major drug manufacturers combined made more than $50 billion in profits last year. In addition, in 2017, one in five U.S. residents reported they did not fill a prescription because of cost.
“Meanwhile, in Canada and other major countries, the same medications, manufactured by the same companies, in the same factories are available for a fraction of the price compared to the United States,” the senators stated in a joint news release. “In 2017, Americans spent $1,208 per person on prescription drugs while Canadians spent $860 and people in the U.K. spent $476.”
There are signs that the drive to slash drug costs in the U.S. – at least on some levels – is a bipartisan issue.
In October 2018, the Trump Administration unveiled a proposal to reduce the price of certain costly drugs administered under Medicare by linking what Medicare pays for these drugs to what other industrialized countries pay, Forbes.com reported.
In addition, the Trump Administration has launched a series of reforms that may already be helping to streamline the approval process for generic drugs, the Council of Economic Advisers said.
According to an October 2018 report from the council:
“As part of the Trump Administration’s overall deregulatory agenda, the HHS and the FDA have launched a series of reforms to better facilitate price competition by streamlining the drug application and review process in a way that effectively lowers barriers to entry while ensuring a supply of safe and effective drugs. This deregulatory effort will enhance competition and may already be contributing to the faster flow of newly approved generic drugs seen since January 2017.”
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