Bill Would Let Feds Negotiate Prices for Prescription Drugs
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Wednesday introduced legislation that would re-establish the reasonable pricing clause, allowing the government to negotiate the price of drugs developed using federal funds, The Hill reports.
The bill represents the "best chance" for Democrats to send a prescription drug price-control measure through Congress, according to The Hill. Despite White House disapproval on the grounds that the law would hinder competition and damage drug development, the bill "has a reasonable chance to attract 60 votes" in the Senate, according to The Hill.
The reasonable pricing clause was established in 1989 but was revoked by the Clinton administration after two NIH panels found that it slowed drug development.
Sanders cites the absence of the provision as a reason that the U.S. pays the highest drug prices in the world, saying, "while Americans pay for the research, [the drug industry] receives a discount." Sanders also criticized the drug industry lobby, calling it the "most powerful lobbying force in the capital."
Many observers predict that President Bush would veto such a bill.
Ken Johnson, senior vice president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, in a statement said, "Clearly, policies such as the reasonable pricing clause disincentivize collaborative research that helps patients live longer" (Mikhail, The Hill, 5/3).