Sanders comes out against 21st Century Cures bill

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Former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Tuesday came out against a bipartisan medical innovation bill, denouncing it for “corporate giveaways.”

The move comes one day after fellow liberal Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) also announced her opposition to the measure, citing similar concerns that the measure favored pharmaceutical companies. 

{mosads}Still, the bill, called 21st Century Cures, is expected to win support from other Democrats, who have been negotiating with Republicans for months. The measure aims to speed up the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of new drugs. 

But Sanders argued it does nothing to address the hot-button topic of high drug prices, while including provisions favorable to drug companies and lowering FDA regulations. 

“At a time when Americans pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, this bill provides absolutely no relief for soaring drug prices,” Sanders said in a statement. “The greed of the pharmaceutical industry has no limit, and this bill includes numerous corporate giveaways that will make drug companies even richer.”

Sanders said the bill should not pass “in its current form.” 

“It’s time for Congress to stand up to the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies, not give them more handouts,” he said. 

The measure is headed for a vote in the House on Wednesday, and the Senate is expected to soon follow. Democrats said they were still negotiating to seek final changes to the bill, and Democratic leaders, including the White House, have not publicly announced their position yet. 

But the bill includes Democratic priorities, like $1.8 billion to fund Vice President Biden’s cancer “moonshot” and $1 billion over two years to fight opioid addiction. It has a total of $4.8 billion over 10 years for research at the National Institutes of Health, though Sanders and Warren criticized that as being insufficient and not being guaranteed, mandatory spending. 

The funding is set aside in a specific fund not subject to the usual budget limits, though. 

Tags Bernie Sanders Elizabeth Warren

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