Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), joined by several Democratic colleagues, on Thursday unveiled three bills to lower prescription drug prices, part of a new push from progressives to act on the issue.
“The people of our country pay by far, not even close, the highest prices in the world for the prescription drugs that they need,” Sanders said at a press conference. “That has got to end, and the legislation that we are supporting will do just that.”
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) joined Sanders, along with other Democrats, at the press conference. Both Booker and Sanders are potential 2020 presidential contenders.
Booker has previously come under criticism from some progressives for not being strong enough on drug pricing, but on Thursday Booker spoke out in strong language, attacking the “outrageous and unjustifiably high cost of prescription drugs.”
The bills unveiled Thursday would allow importation of cheaper drugs from Canada, allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices and strip monopolies from drug companies if their prices were above the average price in other wealthy countries.
All those ideas are strongly opposed by the pharmaceutical industry and face little, if any, chance of getting through Congress, especially with Republicans in control of the Senate.
But backers said they hoped President Trump would give a boost to their legislation, given that he has railed against drug companies.
“Today I say to President Trump: If you’re serious about lowering prescription drug costs in this country, support our legislation and get your Republican colleagues on board,” Sanders said.
Sanders also said he hopes to raise pressure on Senate GOP leadership to act on drug prices by having House Democrats first pass legislation.
“These guys [in the House] are going to give us something, and now our Republican colleagues here are going to have to tell their constituents back home why they do not support commonsense legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs,” he said.