As a new Congressional term kicks off, Democrats and Republicans in Congress, as well as the Trump administration, are pushing policies to lower prescription drug prices.
On Wednesday, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced
a bill, dubbed the Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act of 2019, that would allow for Americans to import drugs from Canada. The bill mirrors
the bill by the same name championed by the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in 2017.
Grassley and Klobuchar also introduced a bill
that would target pay-for-delay
arrangements between drugmakers and generic companies and said they will reintroduce the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act
to reduce barriers generic manufacturers face in accessing samples.
Separately, Klobuchar is sponsoring
a bill that would allow for Medicare to negotiate prices for Medicare Part D drugs.
While there is some overlap in political support for the various proposals, Grassley has rejected calls for Medicare to negotiate drug prices.
"I don't want to mess with the government negotiating prices with the private sector," Grassley told reporters on Wednesday.
Not to be outdone, a group of Democrats including Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Peter Welch (D-VT) and Joe Neguse (D-CO) joined Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Thursday to announce a package of three bills they say will "drastically" lower drug prices.
The three bills would tie the prices of prescription drugs in the US to the median price across five developed countries, allow for prescription drug importation from Canada
and allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices
Under the Prescription Drug Price Relief Act of 2019
, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) would be required to license generic or biosimilar competitors when a prescription drug is priced higher than the median price for the same drug in Canada, the UK, France, Germany and Japan.
While HHS has proposed
tying Medicare Part B drug prices to an international index featuring 16 mostly European countries, the Democrats' proposal would apply to all prescription drugs, not just those purchased by Medicare.
HHS Secretary Alex Azar on Wednesday also took aim at high drug prices, warning drugmakers that the Trump administration will take action to bring prices down.
"I want to be really clear to the pharma companies out there and to the pharmacy benefit managers. The President and I will not stop until list prices of drugs come down. This behavior has to stop, drug prices must come down and we will roll out more regulatory and legislative proposals and we will work with Democrats and Republicans to get drug prices down," Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said on Fox Business.