Republican Senators Blocked Voting on a Bill to Lower Astronomical Drug Prices

by | Feb 10, 2022 | Politics & Corruption, Wealth Gap

Photo by Kenishirotie, iStockphoto

Republican Senators Blocked Voting on a Bill to Lower Astronomical Drug Prices

by | Feb 10, 2022 | Politics & Corruption, Wealth Gap

Photo by Kenishirotie, iStockphoto
Once again the pharma industry has proven that it regulates Congress, not the other way around. How long will America allow rampant drug price gouging?

Republished with permission from Common Dreams, by Jake Johnson

Republican Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho blocked Sen. Bernie Sanders’ attempt Wednesday to force a vote on legislation that would slash prescription drug prices, thwarting the Vermont senator’s effort to fast-track the new bill as the pharmaceutical industry rushes to hike costs in the new year.

Sanders, chair of the Senate Budget Committee, requested unanimous consent to proceed to debate and a vote on the Cutting Medicare Prescription Drug Prices in Half Act, a measure he introduced earlier Wednesday alongside Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).

If passed, the bill would bring the prices of drugs covered by Medicare into line with what the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or the Federal Supply Schedule pay for the same medications. According to a 2017 Government Accountability Office study, the VA “paid an average of 54% less per unit than Medicare” for a sample of hundreds of brand-name and generic drugs.

But Crapo—a major recipient of pharmaceutical and insurance industry donations—objected to Sanders’ request to advance the legislation, claiming it would usher in “more bureaucracy.” The Idaho Republican is the lead sponsor of a more industry-friendly bill titled the Lower Costs, More Cures Act, which advocates a “market-based approach” to lowering drug prices.

In a floor speech on Wednesday, Sanders said that “for far too long, it has not been Congress that has been regulating the pharmaceutical industry, it has been the pharmaceutical industry that has been regulating Congress.”

“All over this country, the American people are asking a simple question: How many people need to die, how many people need to get unnecessarily sicker, before Congress is prepared to take on the greed of the prescription drug industry?” said the Vermont senator. “Enough is enough. A lifesaving prescription drug does not mean anything if you cannot afford to buy that drug.”

“We cannot allow the pharmaceutical industry to charge the American people, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs,” Sanders added.

Legislative action against sky-high and rising drug prices frequently ranks as a top priority of voters, and Sanders has warned that Democrats could face disaster in the upcoming midterms if they fail to deliver. The Build Back Better Act, sweeping legislation that includes provisions to cut medicine costs, is stalled in the Senate due to opposition from Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), and every Republican in the chamber.

The attempt by Sanders and Klobuchar to hold a vote on their standalone drug-price legislation came as pharmaceutical firms—which lobbied aggressively against the Build Back Better package—continued to raise the costs of medications that treat a range of serious conditions, from cancer to heart disease to HIV.

An analysis released last week by Patients for Affordable Drugs showed that pharma companies have increased the prices of 742 medications so far this year.

“Of the 742 drugs that the industry raised prices on, 92% were on brand-name drugs, one in four exceeded the most recent rate of inflation available in early January, and 93% exceeded the projected inflation rate for 2023, 2.3%,” the group found.

David Mitchell, a cancer patient and the founder of Patients for Affordable Drugs, said in a statement that “right now, Big Pharma has unlimited pricing power on brand-name drugs.”

“Consistently,” Mitchell continued, “the industry proves it only cares about maximizing profit—not public health—and will continue to raise prices as high as it thinks possible without regard to the millions of Americans who are hurt by high drug prices.”

<a href="http://commondreams.org" target="_blank">Common Dreams</a>

Common Dreams

Common Dreams has been providing breaking news & views for the progressive community since 1997. They are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow Us

Related Articles

Nov 26 2022

Early Voting Starts Today in Georgia Despite Republican Efforts to Block It

The Georgia Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled against the Republican Party attempts to block local election officials from conducting advanced voting the Saturday after...
Nov 24 2022

Huh? Herschel Walker’s Primary Residence Is in Texas?

The question of the day, “How can Herschel Walker represent Georgians when he doesn’t claim Georgia as his primary residence?”
Nov 20 2022

Why Conservative Parents Are Trying to Take Over School Boards

Hundreds of parents hoping to “take back” public education ran for school board seats in the midterms. What’s the actual job that awaits those who win?
Nov 17 2022

How Banks and Private Equity Are Cashing In on Patients Who Can’t Pay Their Medical Bills

As Americans are overwhelmed with medical bills, patient financing is now a multibillion-dollar business—with profit margins topping 29 percent in the patient financing...
Nov 16 2022

Some “Do’s and Don’ts” of How the News Media Should Responsibly Cover Trump’s New Circus

When it comes to Trump, journalists—if they are to serve the public interest—must realize they are reporting on a politician who regularly defies democratic norms and...
Nov 12 2022

Georgia Senate Candidates Back on the Campaign Trail as Trump Factor Could Again Aid Warnock

Trump has been blamed for helping Warnock and Sen. Jon Ossoff win in 2021 when he spent the time before the January runoff telling Georgians the state’s election system...
Nov 10 2022

How Can Congressional Insurrectionists Be Removed from Office Under the 14th Amendment?

There is no question that certain sitting members or newly reelected members of Congress do not qualify for office under 14th Amendment. The real question is whose job...
Nov 07 2022

Billionaires Have Spent Almost a Billion Dollars Trying to Buy the Midterm Election Cycle

According to an analysis released last week by Americans for Tax Fairness, U.S. billionaires who have seen their wealth skyrocket during the coronavirus pandemic have...
Nov 05 2022

New Report Confirms Corporations Use Inflation as an Excuse for Price Gouging and Profiteering

Under the guise of inflation, certain corporations excessively hiked prices far beyond what their costs necessitated, further driving inflation.
Nov 02 2022

What is “Christian Nationalism” and Why Has It Gotten So Loud

Christian nationalism is more than religiosity and patriotism. It is a worldview that guides how people believe the nation should be structured and who belongs...
Subscribe for Updates!

Subscribe for Updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This