Bring Down Prescription Drug Prices

The Senate on Tuesday tried to take up common-sense legislation to let the government negotiate directly with drug companies for lower prices under Medicare, but Senate Republicans, in league with pharmaceutical manufacturers, stymied the legislation. For good measure, the White House issued a veto threat.

The Senate on Tuesday tried to take up common-sense legislation to let the government negotiate directly with drug companies for lower prices under Medicare, but Senate Republicans, in league with pharmaceutical manufacturers, stymied the legislation. For good measure, the White House issued a veto threat. A Senate committee had voted in favor of a bill that would have allowed the administration to use the buying power of Medicare to negotiate better prices. It permitted negotiations. A House-passed version would require negotiations, but even the compromise language of the Senate was rejected by the Bush administration and drug company allies on Capitol Hill. Under the current Medicare drug benefit, private insurance plans and pharmaceutical companies settle on the price of prescriptions. With some 22 million seniors and the disabled enrolled in the plans, Medicare could use that leverage to drive a better bargain and in the process save money for taxpayers and seniors. It's a shame that Senate Republicans voted to cut off debate, but the fight for lower-cost prescription drugs will continue. We should, for example, give FDA authority to ensure accurate and responsible drug advertising. A Congressional Research Service study showed a developing consensus among health professionals that mass marketing of pharmaceuticals have pushed up health care costs. According to the report, between 1996 and 2003, there was a four-fold increase in spending on direct-to-consumer advertising.To learn more about The Medicare Fair Prescription Drug Price Act of 2007 click here.