Sanders vows to cut prescription prices in half if elected president

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersRestless progressives eye 2024 Key senators to watch on Democrats' social spending bill Five ways Senate could change Biden's spending plan MORE (I-Vt.) vowed Sunday to cut prescription drug prices in half if elected president in 2020.

"It is absurd that Americans are forced to pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs while the top 5 drug companies made over $50 billion in profits last year," he said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

"We have a national health emergency when one out of five Americans cannot afford to purchase the medicine their doctors prescribe. Whether the drug companies like it or not, that is a situation which must end, and end soon."

Sanders, who declared his 2020 candidacy in February, has aggressively targeted lowering prescription drug prices.

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In January, joined by several Democratic lawmakers, the Vermont senator introduced a sweeping set of bills to tackle high prices.

The bills would allow importation of cheaper drugs from Canada, allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices and strip monopolies from drug companies if their prices were above the average price in other wealthy countries.

Although legislation like those bills is unlikely to be approved by a Republican-controlled Senate, several 2020 Democratic nominees have joined in on rolling out plans to lower prescription costs.

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenRestless progressives eye 2024 Poll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run Biden eyes new path for Fed despite Powell pick MORE (D-Mass.), for example, introduced a bill late last year to let the government manufacture certain drugs and sell them at lower prices if there is not enough competition.

Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerPoll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season Senators call for Smithsonian Latino, women's museums to be built on National Mall MORE (D-N.J.) recently introduced a bill to increase transparency requirements around drug company payments to people with influence over deciding which drugs Medicaid covers.

Sanders also made fighting pharmaceutical companies a central theme of his ultimately failed 2016 presidential campaign.