Prescription Drugs

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) chairs a hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging on October 10, 2013.

Sen. Sanders believes every American should have access to safe, effective and affordable prescription medications.

Sen. Sanders is fighting to lower costs for consumers by bringing greater transparency and competition to the health care system. He introduced S.627 to create a medical innovation prize fund that would fundamentally restructure the system of financing research and development of new medicines and dramatically reduce their prices. By rewarding only truly innovative products that provide new therapeutic benefits, this proposal would also reduce wasteful spending on research, development and marketing. Sen. Sanders' bill would directly reward developers of medicines on the basis of a drug's benefit to consumers. After approval of a new medicine, the product would immediately come on the market as a generic, saving consumers a decade or more of paying exorbitant prices for brand-name drugs.

“It is unacceptable that Americans pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.”

- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Sen. Sanders supports bringing cheaper generic drugs to market faster by authorizing the Federal Trade Commission to aggressively litigate pharmaceutical companies that engage in "pay-for-delay" agreements that keep low-cost generic drugs off the market. He has also cosponsored S.117, the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2013, which would permit Medicare to negotiate drug prices, just as the Department of Veterans Affairs currently does.

Sen. Sanders has worked to reduce the pharmaceutical industry's influence over the drug approval process. In 2012, he was the only senator to vote against the Food and Drug Administration user fee bill because it did not do enough to address high prescription drug prices and was too generous to the pharmaceutical industry.

Sen. Sanders was the first member of Congress to take his constituents across the Canadian border to buy their prescription drugs at a fraction of the price they were forced to pay in the United States. He believes importing FDA-approved prescription drugs from Canada and other countries is a safe way to improve competition in the marketplace and reduce the price of prescription drugs.