Senate Dems, Sanders ask Trump to help lower drug prices
Senate Democrats are urging Donald Trump to work with Congress to help lower drug prices.
Fifteen Democratic senators, as well as Independent Sens. Angus King (Maine) and Bernie Sanders (Vt.), sent a letter to the president-elect on Tuesday arguing he should follow up on his campaign pledge to try to bring down the cost of prescription drugs.
“You now have the authority to push for a future that prioritizes patients,” the senators wrote in the letter. “We are ready to advance measures to achieve this goal and we urge you to partner with Republicans and Democrats alike to take meaningful steps to address the high cost of prescription drugs through bold administrative and legislative actions.”
The Democrats add in the letter—which was spearheaded by Sens. Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Al Franken (Minn.)—that Americans are struggling to afford medication and frequently have to “choose between paying for prescription drugs and other necessities, like food and shelter.”
Democrats outlined five areas where they are willing to work with Trump, including helping give the Secretary of Health and Human Services the ability to negotiate drug prices.
“Under current law, the Secretary is prohibited from doing so. We urge you to work with Congress to pass a law that lifts the current ban and gives the Secretary the authority to take immediate action and negotiate better prices for prescription drugs for our nation’s more than 40 million Medicare Part D beneficiaries,” the senators wrote.
Trump criticized high drug prices during the campaign, including saying in New Hampshire that Medicare could save $300 billion a year on prescription drugs if it negotiated prices.
“We don’t do it,” he said at the time. “Why? Because of the drug companies.”
Sanders tried to amend a bipartisan medical innovation bill earlier this month to include a provision allowing for drug prices to be negotiated, but he was blocked by Sen. Roy Blunt. The Missouri Republican argued that it could sink passage of the 21st Century Cures Act.
Democrats are calling on Trump to “increase transparency” by allowing patients to know a drug’s “true cost,” including tax credits the company receives and the amount of money spent on research and development.
They also want to Trump to help stop “abusive” price hikes on prescription drugs, help use taxpayer money to research “affordable and effective drugs,” and “ensure true competition.”
“It is past time to end the rigging of the prescription drug marketplace,” the Democrats wrote. “We urge you to task the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice with aggressively enforcing laws that currently exist and push for new provisions to ensure timely entrance of generics to the marketplace.”
In addition to Brown and Franken, Democratic Sens. Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Jack Reed (R.I.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Tom Udall (N.M), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Tim Kaine (Va.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Ed Markey (Mass.), Sanders and King signed the letter.