Sanders Condemns Price Gouging by Drug Companies

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 – Comparing drug prices in the United States to those in other countries, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today condemned pharmaceutical companies that charge American consumers the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.   

“It is unacceptable that the top three pharmaceutical companies made a combined $45 billion in profits last year and spent more on sales and marketing than they did on research and development,” Sanders said in a speech on the floor of the Senate. “The United States is the only major country on earth that does not in one form or another regulate prescription drug prices and the results have been an unmitigated disaster.” 

Americans saw nationwide spending on drugs jump more than 12 percent last year, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That increase was more than double the rise in overall medical costs. Nearly one in five Americans between the ages of 19 and 64 – 35 million people – did not fill a prescription last year because they could not afford it.

“We clearly need a new approach to prescription drugs in this country,” Sanders said. “We need leadership prepared to stand up to the pharmaceutical industry and tell them loudly and clearly that they will no longer be able to rip off the American people.”

Sanders and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) began an investigation into skyrocketing drug prices in October 2014. This month, they introduced the Prescription Drug Affordability Act of 2015, which authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies for better prices under private Medicare drug plans. It also includes tougher penalties for drug companies that commit fraud, bans the practice of brand name drugmakers paying competitors to keep lower-priced generic substitutes off the market, and would allow the U.S. to import drugs from Canada. The bill would also improve transparency in the prescription drug industry and require drug companies to report how much money they spend on research and development and receive in federal benefits.

Click here to read Sanders’ prepared remarks.