Today, Medicare covers prescription drug costs under Part B–drugs that are generally administered at a hospital or in a doctor’s office–and Part D–drugs that are self-administered. And, Medicare pays whatever price pharmaceutical companies charge for their drugs because Congress forbids Medicare from negotiating drug prices. Now, Senator Amy Klobuchar has introduced a bill which would empower Medicare to reduce drug prices.
The price of prescription drugs has been rising rapidly in large part because there is no free market for drugs. The FDA approves drugs based on select evidence, without knowledge of their price or clinical effectiveness as compared with other drugs already on the market. Drug companies effectively have monopoly power to set prices for their patented drugs for as long as they can keep them patented. Doctors are free to prescribe these drugs regardless of their clinical benefits or costs. And, Congress requires Medicare to cover them, even without evidence of their clinical benefits relative to less costly drugs on the market.
Klobuchar’s bill is aimed at introducing some competition into the prescription drug marketplace through Medicare drug price negotiation. In early 2017, Klobuchar introduced legislation with John McCain to allow people to import drugs safely from Canada. She has also introduced bi-partisan legislation with Senator Charles Grassley that would keep Pharma from paying generic drug companies from delaying manufacture of their drugs as generics for lower cost, “pay for delay.” And, she has introduced bi-partisan legislation with Senator Mike Lee, Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) to allow drug companies to sell drugs in the U.S. that they have sold abroad for at least 10 years when there is little or no competition for the drug in the U.S.
Thirty-one senators are co-sponsoring Klobuchar’s Medicare drug price negotiation bill, including Chuck Schumer, Patty Murray and Tammy Baldwin.
If you want Congress to rein in drug prices, please sign this petition.
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