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 GrassleyTrump steps up GOP charm offensive as impeachment looms Congressional authority in a time of Trump executive overreach Overnight Health Care: Crunch time for Congress on surprise medical bills | CDC confirms 47 vaping-related deaths | Massachusetts passes flavored tobacco, vaping products ban 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. 

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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 KlobucharA free college tradeoff — what should the 2020 candidates promise? Booker hits fundraising threshold for December debate after surge of post-debate donations The Hill's Morning Report - Sondland stuns; Dems pull punches in fifth debate 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."