Booker, Sanders propose new federal agency to control drug prices

Booker, Sanders propose new federal agency to control drug prices
© Getty Images

Sens. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDemocrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus Lawmakers, labor leaders ramp up calls to use Defense Production Act Democratic senators call on FDA to drop restrictions on blood donations from men who have sex with men MORE (D-N.J.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersTop Democratic super PACs team up to boost Biden Poll: Biden leads Sanders by 22 points GE employees urge company to use laid-off workers to make ventilators MORE (I-Vt.) on Friday introduced a bill that would create a new federal agency focused on controlling the costs of prescription drugs. 

ADVERTISEMENT

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 Devi HarrisBiden tops Trump by 9 points in Fox News poll Biden could be picking the next president: VP choice more important than ever With VP pick, Biden can't play small ball in a long ball world 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 John TrumpCuomo grilled by brother about running for president: 'No. no' Maxine Waters unleashes over Trump COVID-19 response: 'Stop congratulating yourself! You're a failure' Meadows resigns from Congress, heads to White House 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 PelosiMeadows resigns from Congress, heads to White House Pelosi floats undoing SALT deduction cap in next coronavirus bill Overnight Health Care: More states order residents to stay at home | Trump looks to sell public on coronavirus response | Judges block Ohio, Texas abortion bans | Dems eye infrastructure in next relief bill 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 McConnellThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump, Biden spar over coronavirus response Senator Tom Coburn's government oversight legacy Schumer praises choice of Defense inspector general to oversee corporate lending fund MORE (R-Ky.) has not given his support to even a more modest bipartisan drug pricing measure from Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyDemocrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus Coronavirus pushes GOP's Biden-Burisma probe to back burner Lobbying blitz yields wins for airlines, corporations, banks, unions MORE (R-Iowa) and Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: FCC chief proposes 0M telehealth program | Twitter takes down posts promoting anti-malaria drugs for coronavirus| Whole Foods workers plan Tuesday strike Trump says election proposals in coronavirus stimulus bill would hurt Republican chances States should plan now for November voting options 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.