Thursday, May 03, 2007

Sanders Tries to Lower Price of Drugs Developed by Federal Funding

The Hill newspaper is reporting in its online edition that Sen. Bernie Sanders, (I-VT), is re-introducing legislation to restore the power of the Federal Government to set the prices of drugs developed with Federal money. This legislation is being offered in the form of an amendment to existing legislation. This is a quote from the article on the Sanders legislation: "Sanders said that the lack of the provision has helped create the situation where Americans are paying the highest drug prices in the world, “while Americans pay for research, [the pharmaceutical drug industry] receives a discount.” He went on to blast the drug industry lobby, calling it “the most powerful lobbying force in the capital” and attributing the repeal of the clause in 1995 to its efforts."

The article notes that repeal of what is known as the "reasonable pricing clause" was done with the support of the Clinton Administration. The theory for repealing this provision was that it would speed up the delivery of drugs to the market-place and lead to Americans receiving help from such drugs faster. Sanders argues that this has led to American taxpayers helping to develop drugs which then cost Americans more money to purchase than consumers in other countries.

The article notes that the bill has a significant chance of attracting votes from enough Senators to override an expected Bush veto. Bush would apparently veto this bill because it would "impede competition and undermine drug development efforts." Not suprisingly, the drug industry is also against this bill. A spokesperson for the drug industry organization issued this statement to The Hill reporter: "Clearly, policies such as the reasonable pricing clause disincentivize collaborative research that helps patients live longer, healthier lives.” Senator Sanders had a short response to the drug industry's statement: "Don't believe it."

You can read the article by clicking on the link in this entry's title.

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