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House Democrats’ internal feud over prescription drug prices, explained | Vox

The United States has some of the highest prescription drug prices in the world, and this summer, Democratic House leadership will unveil a plan to fix that — though questions remain about just how effective this measure will be.

Reducing prescription drug prices was a key plank of House Democrats’ platform during the 2018 midterms. More than six months into their term, however, a concrete bill has yet to emerge from House leadership on the subject, and early excerpts Speaker Nancy Pelosi has floated have spurred progressive concern.

Curbing the rise of prescription drug prices is a problem that Democrats have wanted to solve for some time. Because of the way the industry is currently regulated, many pharmaceutical companies have established a monopoly on certain drugs and have significant leeway when it comes to determining costs for their medications.

As a result, the US boasts some of the highest prescription drug prices of any developed country, leading to shocking costs for thousands of drugs including insulin. Most recently, a gene therapy treatment from Novartis was priced at a whopping $2.1 million.

Despite Democrats’ consensus about the problem and the broad way to solve it (more government regulation), there’s disagreement among lawmakers about the best route to take.

Although Pelosi’s bill is not yet finalized, she has laid out some general outlines at various caucus meetings, including some recent updates that responded to progressive pushback: According to the pieces she’s revealed so far, the bill would enable Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to negotiate on prescription drugs covered by Medicare, but a final price would be decided by the Government Accountability Office if no agreement could initially be reached.

That approach differs significantly from two other bills, one introduced by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the other by Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH). Doggett and Brown’s legislation, which has garnered the support of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, would not include a GAO middle-man in negotiations. Additionally, it would enable a pharmaceutical company’s competitors to produce a generic version of a drug if a firm did not engage in negotiations fairly.

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House Democrats’ internal feud over prescription drug prices, explained – Vox.

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