Grassley says not in favor of government negotiating with companies on drug prices

Grassley says not in favor of government negotiating with companies on drug prices
© Stefani Reynolds

The new Republican chairman of the Senate Finance Committee squashed Democratic hopes Wednesday of passing a proposal to allow the government to negotiate directly with drug companies to lower prescription drug prices.

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyTreasury expands penalty relief to more taxpayers Overnight Health Care: Senators seek CBO input on preventing surprise medical bills | Oversight panel seeks OxyContin documents | Pharmacy middlemen to testify on prices | Watchdog warns air ambulances can put patients at 'financial risk' Drug prices are a matter of life and death MORE (R-Iowa) told reporters he would pursue legislation to lower drug prices, but will not pursue the Democratic proposal on negotiations.

"I don't want to mess with the government negotiating prices with the private sector," he said. 

Allowing Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies has long been a Democratic priority, one that the House plans to vote on this year. 

But Grassley made clear on Wednesday it won't go anywhere in the Republican-controlled Senate, adding he had talked with a Democratic colleague on the committee about Medicare prescription drug negotiations and determined that it's "one place where we're going to completely disagree." 

He added the Finance Committee would focus on bipartisan drug pricing efforts, like a proposal that aims to bring cheaper generics to the market. 

He and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharKlobuchar pressing Barr on release of Mueller report Green New Deal vote tests Dem unity in Senate Why do so many Democrats embrace hate speech? MORE (D-Minn.) also reintroduced bipartisan legislation Wednesday that would allow the importation of prescription drugs from Canada, a proposal that has some support among Republicans and Democrats but has been opposed by the pharmaceutical lobby.

“For decades, safe and affordable prescription drugs have been for sale just across the border, but legally out of reach for American families," Grassley said in a statement.

"It’s long past time for Congress to help the millions of Americans who struggle to pay exorbitant prices for medication. Our bill would do exactly that."