Saturday, September 12, 2015

An update from Bernie Sanders

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Back when I was in the U.S. House, I was the first member of Congress to take constituents across the border to Canada to highlight the huge disparity between the cost of prescription drugs in the U.S. and other nations.
On that first trip were a number of women struggling with breast cancer.
I will never forget the tears in the eyes of women who were able to buy the breast cancer drug tamoxifen in Canada at one tenth of the price they were paying for that drug in the U.S.
In 2014, the pharmaceutical industry spent over $250 million on lobbying and campaign contributions -- far more than any other industry in America. This grotesque spending results in Americans paying more money for medication than anyone else in the world.
The time has come to say very loudly and very clearly that enough is enough.The greed of the pharmaceutical industry is killing Americans. It has got to stop.
Last year, 35 million Americans could not get their prescriptions filled because they could not afford it.
People should not have to go without the medication they need just because their elected officials aren’t willing to challenge the drug and health care industry lobby. Yet that is exactly what is happening.
I have a plan to change this. Last week I introduced a bill in the Senate — and when I am president, I will work to make it law — that will stop the soaring costs of prescription drug prices.
My plan to reduce prescription drug prices is based around getting a better deal for the American people, and keeping drug companies in check over outrageous and unfair practices.
Medicare should negotiate lower drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry. Due to a provision in law written by the pharmaceutical industry, Medicare is banned from using its purchasing power to lower prescription drug prices. My plan will empower Medicare to negotiate lower costs for our seniors, and save us all money.
Americans should be able to import drugs from Canada and other well-regulated countries. Individuals, pharmacists, and wholesalers should be able to import prescription drugs from licensed Canadian pharmacies. Americans pay 40% more per person than Canadians for prescription drugs. Anyone in our country should be able to take advantage of those savings for medications they need.
We need better transparency around drug costs. Right now, the pharmaceutical industry can arbitrarily set prices for drugs, and the public has very little insight into why certain drugs cost what they do — even though some of the research costs are often funded with U.S. taxpayer dollars. I believe that drug companies should tell us about how much drugs cost to research and develop, how much taxpayer money went towards those costs, what drugs actually cost in the United States, and how much they cost in other countries.
Generic drugs should be widely available, and drug companies shouldn't be able to pay off competitors to keep cheaper drugs off the market.Brand-name drugs cost, on average, 10 times as much as generics. Right now, it is a common practice for big drug companies to pay their competitors to restrict generic drugs from the public. We need to ban this practice, and make cheaper drugs readily available.
Drug companies that break the law should face severe penalties. If any drug company is convicted of criminal or civil fraud, they should face severe penalties including the prospect of losing their government-granted monopoly on a drug. Over the last decade, most major-branded drug makers have either settled or been convicted of fraud for violations including off-label promotion, kickbacks, anti-monopoly practices, and Medicare fraud. It's time to step up the penalties for breaking the law.
What good is it to live in the richest country on earth, if so many of our people cannot afford medications that could save their lives?
The American people are sick and tired of paying the highest prices for prescription drugs in the world. The skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs are an example of the greed of the pharmaceutical companies that has got to stop.
Now, I believe that the true solution is a national health care system that puts people ahead of profits and health ahead of special interests, and I will soon introduce legislation to provide a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system to provide health care for all Americans.
But we must also address these outrageous costs of prescription drugs, and my plan that I outlined here will do that.
Thank you for all you do.
In solidarity,
Bernie Sanders

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