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Booker, Sanders propose new federal agency to control drug prices

Booker, Sanders propose new federal agency to control drug prices
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Sens. Cory BookerCory BookerObama says reparations 'justified' Congressional Black Caucus unveils '100 Day Plan' Menendez reintroduces corporate diversity bill MORE (D-N.J.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersSenate Democrats nix 'Plan B' on minimum wage hike Senate mulls changes to .9 trillion coronavirus bill NFL's Justin Jackson praises Sanders for opposing Biden's USDA nominee MORE (I-Vt.) on Friday introduced a bill that would create a new federal agency focused on controlling the costs of prescription drugs. 

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The Prescription Drug Affordability and Access Act would form the Bureau of Prescription Drug Affordability and Access. 

The 2020 Democratic hopefuls were joined by fellow White House contender Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBrown vows Democrats will 'find a way' to raise minimum wage Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson vs. Donald Trump: A serious comparison Exclusive: How Obama went to bat for Warren MORE (D-Calif.) as sponsors of the legislation. 

One of the main tenants of the proposal is that if a drug company did not comply with the regulations, it would void exclusivity protections, allowing other companies to produce generic copies of a drug.

The senators noted the legislation is one of the few bills to directly address a drug's list price, which is the cost before any discounts or rebates and is usually only paid by the uninsured. 

Under the bill, manufacturers planning to bring a new drug to the market would have to submit to the bureau the cost of research and development, the cost of the drug and of comparable medications in other countries and the federal investments that contributed to the drug's discovery and production.

The Bureau would review that information and other factors to determine an appropriate list price. 

The legislation is one of many ideas and legislation proposed to try to bring down prescription drug prices but is one of the most drastic introduced to date.

There is bipartisan interest in lowering the cost of prescription drugs, and President TrumpDonald TrumpSacha Baron Cohen calls out 'danger of lies, hate and conspiracies' in Golden Globes speech Sorkin uses Abbie Hoffman quote to condemn Capitol violence: Democracy is 'something you do' Ex-Trump aide Pierson planning run for Congress MORE has made it a signature priority. But while Trump and lawmakers have railed against high drug prices and proposed some steps to address the issue, there have not been any major actions taken to date that have resulted in lower prices.

House Democrats are expected to vote next month on Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump shows he holds stranglehold on GOP, media in CPAC barnburner Biden brings back bipartisan meetings at the White House McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 MORE's (D-Calif.) signature bill that would let Medicare negotiate drug prices. However, Republican opposition is likely to kill the bill in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump shows he holds stranglehold on GOP, media in CPAC barnburner Trump rules out starting a new party: 'Fake news' Sunday shows - Trump's reemergence, COVID-19 vaccines and variants dominate MORE (R-Ky.) has not given his support to even a more modest bipartisan drug pricing measure from Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley to vote against Tanden nomination Grassley says he'll decide this fall whether to run in 2022 Yellen deputy Adeyemo on track for quick confirmation MORE (R-Iowa) and Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSenate Democrats nix 'Plan B' on minimum wage hike Senate mulls changes to .9 trillion coronavirus bill House Democrats pass sweeping .9T COVID-19 relief bill with minimum wage hike MORE (D-Ore.).

Other 2020 candidates have spoken favorably of using so-called march-in rights to break a drug company's exclusive patent and allow a cheaper version from a competitor if a drug is priced too high. 

The agency is modeled after Canada's Patented Medicine Prices Review Board, which reviews whether a medication is overpriced, comparing the cost to similar medicines in other countries. 

Updated at 8:59 a.m.