Sanders to introduce bill targeting high drug prices

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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is introducing legislation aimed at fighting high prescription drug prices, as he attacks pharmaceutical companies for their “outrageous profits.” 

{mosads}The presidential candidate, challenging Hillary Clinton from the left, has made attacking high drug prices one part of his push on healthcare, where he also calls for a “single-payer” system of government-provided insurance for all. 

“Americans should not have to live in fear that they will go bankrupt if they get sick,” Sanders said in a statement. “People should not have to go without the medication they need just because their elected officials aren’t willing to challenge the drug and health care industry lobby.”

Sanders’s bill would allow the Medicare prescription drug program to negotiate prices with drug companies, which is currently banned under a 2003 law. The measure would also allow the importation of drugs from Canada. 

It requires drug companies to report information about factors that affect pricing, such as research and development costs. Pharmaceutical companies say they are producing groundbreaking new cures that are difficult and expensive to develop. 

Clinton has also pointed to high drug prices as a problem. In June she called for fixes to “the exploding cost of drugs.”

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says that prescription drug spending increased 12.6 percent last year, the largest increase since 2002 and more than twice the increase in overall health spending. 

New specialty drugs that treat complex conditions account for much of the price increase. Sovaldi, a new cure for Hepatitis C, has become a symbol of high drug prices with its $84,000 cost for a 12-week treatment. 

Sanders also says he will soon introduce a single-payer healthcare bill. He held a rally outside the Capitol in July to call for single-payer and a fix for high drug prices. 

Sanders asked if the country wants “drug companies to be making outrageous profits from people who can’t afford their products?” The crowd responded, “No!”

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