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Sanders writes: "Prescription drug prices in the United States are the highest in the world - by far. Californians on Nov. 8 have a chance to stand up to the pharmaceutical industry's greed and spark a national movement to end this price-gouging."

Senator Bernie Sanders speaks to a crowd at a rally in support of Proposition 61, held at the American Federation of Musicians Hall in Los Angeles, October 14. (photo: Los Angeles Times)
Senator Bernie Sanders speaks to a crowd at a rally in support of Proposition 61, held at the American Federation of Musicians Hall in Los Angeles, October 14. (photo: Los Angeles Times)


Now Is the Time to Stand Up to Big Pharma

By Bernie Sanders, Los Angeles Times

21 October 16

 

rescription drug prices in the United States are the highest in the world — by far. Californians on Nov. 8 have a chance to stand up to the pharmaceutical industry's greed and spark a national movement to end this price-gouging.

Today, no laws prevent drug companies from doubling or tripling prices. So they just do it. The most recent flagrant example is the emergency allergy injection, EpiPen. Its maker, Mylan, jacked up the price of this 40-year-old medication by 461% between 2007 and 2015. During that same period, compensation for Mylan's CEO rose 671%. And that's just one company and one drug.

Proposition 61, the California Drug Price Relief Act, would bar the state from paying more than the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does for the same drugs. That would include medicine purchased for state employees and retirees, university students, prison inmates, uninsured people with HIV/AIDS and Californians covered by the public insurance program Medi-Cal.

The VA pays an estimated 24% less for drugs than most government agencies and about 40% less than Medicare Part D. Those are significant savings. In California, Proposition 61 would make drugs more affordable and accessible for about 6 million people.

The soaring cost of medicine is a major health crisis nationwide. One out of five Americans age 19 to 64 cannot afford their prescriptions. Hundreds of thousands of seniors cut their pills in half to stretch one month's prescription into two. Many of those patients will get sicker and some will die. Meanwhile, the five largest drug companies made more than $50 billion in profits last year. The top 10 CEOs in the industry received a total of more than $327 million in compensation.

How have pharma companies gotten away with such avarice? They currently have 1,266 lobbyists on their payrolls in Washington, D.C., and 118 fighting for their priorities in Sacramento. They've made hundreds of millions in campaign contributions to politicians. And just this year, massive pharma lobbying efforts killed two bills in the heavily Democratic California Legislature that would have made modest steps toward drug-pricing transparency.

Now, drugmakers are using their cash and clout to try to defeat Proposition 61. Incredibly, the measure's opponents are prepared to spend up to $100 million in California to make sure that Americans continue paying the highest drug prices in the world. Why? A major pharmaceutical industry publication has called Proposition 61 "ground zero" in the fight against high drug prices, and warned drug company executives that "adoption of VA pricing by the state of California would be a 'pricing disaster' for the entire U.S. drug industry."

Their TV ads have mostly featured veterans who lament that if Proposition 61 passes the drug industry will raise the prices it charges the VA. Not true.

As the former chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, I would never support a measure that harms our veterans. Pharmaceutical companies cannot unilaterally raise the prices of drugs it sells to the VA. The most the VA pays for a drug is either the best commercial price minus discounts and rebates, or the average price paid by pharmacies minus a large discount, whichever is lower. Those price caps are set in law. The VA also receives additional discounts if drug prices rise faster than general inflation. In other words, drug companies cannot just jack up the cost of drugs it sells to the VA.

In addition, veterans' drug co-payments are fixed and do not rise even if drug prices go up. It is also important to note that veterans being treated for any condition related to their military service pay no out-of-pocket costs whatsoever for prescription drugs.

The drug industry also argues that less than 20% of Californians will benefit from Proposition 61. In fact, the measure will provide relief to all Californians whose tax dollars pay for the drugs used to treat many Medi-Cal recipients and state employees. Taxpayers would save an estimated $1 billion a year.

It's unacceptable that the exact drugs that we buy in our country are sold in Canada, Britain and other countries for a fraction of the price. My urgent message is to vote yes on Proposition 61 to make medicine more affordable in California and send a signal to Washington that the whole nation's prescription drug policies need an overhaul.

Bernie Sanders is the junior U.S. senator from Vermont.

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+19 # RMDC 2016-10-21 17:48
So far Bush did nothing to control big Pharma. His medicare drug benefit (part D) bans bargaining with drug companies for better prices. The Washington regime just subsidizes all medicare recipient's drug payments rather than force down prices.

Obama did nothing to control big pharma. Obamacare just allows drug companies to set their own prices and the government pays. Hillary is likely to follow the Bush-Obama tradition. And this is another good reason to vote against Hillary.

California may pass prop 61 and that would be good, but Big Pharma will find a workaround. They will have the white house and Hillary backing them up.
 
 
-12 # Jaax88 2016-10-21 23:21
No it isn't and they won't!!!!!!!!!! !1
 
 
+2 # Henry 2016-10-22 07:55
Quoting Jaax88:
No it isn't and they won't!!!!!!!!!!!1


???
.
 
 
+10 # Ted 2016-10-22 07:52
Part one;

I'll start by saying I sincerely love Bernie Sanders for everything he has, and still is, trying to accomplish for our U.S. society and Humanity in general.

That said, I have been reading a lot of posts claiming that those of us who are standing strong in our strife to break up the status quo of the stranglehold the two-party duopoly has on the Americann electorate need to look at the "big picture".

I guess those posts are trying to imply that the big picture means we must continue on the path we are on and only offer up small suggestions along the way in an attempt to correct the obviously suicidal course we are on.
 
 
+16 # Ted 2016-10-22 07:54
Part two;

I firmly disagree.

Take the 'big pharma price gouging' situation for example.

Why are we retroactivily narrowing our focus specifically on the previously committed individual incidents of this and then REACTING to each new incident as they come up after the fact, rather than setting our legilative sights on the 'big picture' of pre-emptively regulating and legislating against ANY action at all that 'big corporations' of ANY TYPE engage in that would obviously harm the public in the pursuit of profit for a handful of shareholders?.

Price gouging of any non-luxury item or service; health, education, nutrtion, shelter, etc. should be the focus of our pre-emptive regulation and legislation. As a whole. The big picture.
 
 
+14 # Ted 2016-10-22 07:54
Part three;

Our current crop of self-interested representatives simply must go to be replaced with citizens who are entirely and only concerned with the overall general well-being of our citizenry AS A WHOLE. And they ARE out there.

The two "main" political party's do not offer us this future, at all.

There is only one way to get where we need to be and that is to break free of the tyrant classes currently ruling our country and to open up our Democracy to the third, fourth and infinite number of willing candidates who are sincere in their concern for OUR entire Nations future.

Do not continue to allow yourself to be played by the duopoly any longer.

Think, support, and vote outside of the box, the CAGE, that the dem/repub party believes they have us trapped in.
 
 
+14 # librarian1984 2016-10-22 09:50
We also know people tend to dislike Congress as a whole but are satisfied that their own representative is okay.

In this election we should vote for the most progressive candidates we can find, and vote to unseat any incumbent you can't credit with some good policy or votes.
 
 
+6 # GoGreen! 2016-10-22 19:00
"Our current crop of self-interested representatives " are in fact CORRUPT. They are not in any way 'our' Representatives . They are working for their 'major donors' and don't give a hoot for their constituents. Did your 'rep' back single payer, Medicare for all? Or did he/she follow the advice of Nancy Pelosi and say the bill will not come up for a vote---it is "OFF THE TABLE!" Well, It is time to give these 'reps' a kick out of Congress.
 
 
+2 # lfeuille 2016-10-22 16:55
Prop 61 is good, but only covers the drugs in VA formulary which is very limited. A lot of drugs just wouldn't be covered by it.
 
 
-32 # Bryan 2016-10-21 19:24
'' Proposition 61, the California Drug Price Relief Act, would bar the state from paying more than the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does for the same drugs. That would include medicine purchased for state employees and retirees, university students, prison inmates, uninsured people with HIV/AIDS and Californians covered by the public insurance program Medi-Cal''

And

""The drug industry also argues that less than 20% of Californians will benefit from Proposition 61. In fact, the measure will provide relief to all Californians whose tax dollars pay for the drugs

Fuck off Bernie---this drug price increase has been going on for 30 years and none of you have done jack shit about it.

And further I don't give a rats ass about helping 'state employees, prison inmates and etc even if it saves the taxpayers money.

Why?... because as a taxpayer who is not on your list of those who will benefit from this idea I will still be paying high prices, probably even higher as Pharma will jack up prices for those not on your list --and still be paying for your more favored citizens.

So until you Start including ALL AMERICANS in your help plans and not just the 'state employees' who already get a better deal than the private sector and your favorite victim classes--Go to hell.

This type of crap is exactly why there is a Trump----we who bear the brunt of paying for everything are sick of being
the 'left out class and getting the shit end of the stick.
 
 
+11 # RMDC 2016-10-22 07:19
Bryan -- "This type of crap is exactly why there is a Trump----we who bear the brunt of paying for everything are sick of being
the 'left out class and getting the shit end of the stick."


I think this is right. But Trump can't do anything. He has no political organization. The lobbyists for big pharma already have too many members of congress and too many administrative staffers bought off. This is a case of pure bribery. The frustration of people is what is producing a Trump.

Here's Bernie standing up to big pharma. Do you see the problem? --

https://s9.postimg.org/n9m52qkz3/IMG_3231.jpg

Bernie does have quite a political organization behind him.
 
 
-2 # GoGreen! 2016-10-22 19:08
Bernie does not have "quite a political organization behind him". He betrayed his political supporters by standing down and allowing Hillary to be the Democratic Party's candidate for President. I am sure he had a very good reason to drop out of the race. But his supporters feel he betrayed them. Bernie could beat Trump but Hillary will not.

My hope is that people learn about Jill Stein and Ajama Baraka and vote for them to change the course of our government.
 
 
-24 # Bryan 2016-10-21 19:46
I am not finished cause this..

'In fact, the measure will provide relief to all Californians whose tax dollars pay for the drugs used to treat many Medi-Cal recipients and state employees. ''

infuriates me. We all know that gov employees are a large voter base for the big government Dems so as in this plan the dems 'pay them back' for their votes.

Tell me why in the hell I should pay to treat state employees who all are covered by their own state health fund.

EXCEPT..as some of us have learned---these employees don't even pay enough in premiums to cover their state sponsored health insurance....SO THE TAX-PAYERS have to pay to make up their shortfall.
AND IN SOME STATES like mine--rather then require the 'state' employees to pay more like private sectors workers do they RAID the coffers of other state agency funds.
In NC not long ago the state took millions out of the State Highway fund--suppose to go road and bridge repairs-- to prop up the state employees health system instead of requiring them to pay more.
 
 
+30 # guomashi 2016-10-21 21:26
In otherwords: WAAAHHHHHH!!!!! If I can't have it no one can!!!!

Getting from here to there takes time. If you stop anyone else from taking the first step, what makes you think anyone else will let you take the first step?

As far as government employees getting benefits, their employers owe them that (under our terminally screwed up system of health insurance). If you are their employer, then you have to pay that through their taxes.

You could try agitating FOR single payer health insurance instead of against improving the situation.

Your choice -
 
 
-13 # Bryan 2016-10-22 08:57
'' In otherwords: WAAAHHHHHH!!!!! If I can't have it no one can!!!!''

You don't get it do you?
I 'have it' and in addition to paying to 'have it' I pay thru taxes for the Dems to 'give it' to "just a FEW of their favorite people'---INSTE AD of going for a bill or law to 'give it' to EVERYONE.

Your choice is this-->you need to get on the bandwagon to have EVERYONE treated FAIRLY by the politicians ---or you're going to eventually get a whole lot worse than Trump----cause we who are providing the tax money for the Dems to cater to their 'victim voter base class" and donor base class are going to stop paying for all of it.

What a farce Bernie and Warren are---they make big stink about the epi pen and the poor state employees and HIV and prisoners and you sheep all applaud.

If they wanted to do something they would go after the whole drug industry system for EVERYONE---but what do they do?
They make the same kind of deal as usual----we gonnna make you give a break to a FEW so it looks like we are doing something --but we wont make you give a break to the ENTIRE population---yo u can still rip them off and increase prices on them to make up for the break we want for the FEW.
And I know a whole lot more about this then you. I am the person who sic'ed the Health Care Task Force Attorneys at the DOL on Aetna and won in 1999.
You now nothing about how this Dem politicians and Pharma game is played.

So stupid.
 
 
0 # Caliban 2016-10-23 12:59
"So stupid" = #Bryan.
 
 
-1 # RLF 2016-10-23 09:03
The self employed have paid higher SS taxes and lots of taxes to support benefits for wage slave who have never taken a chance in their lives...and the rich...we're sick of it...so ...yeah...not for us, who aren't even counted for unemployment but pay for it for the rest of you...then for no one! I'm sick of being used. The other one is family leave! Who needs more kids...we should make it harder not easier to have kids!
 
 
-1 # RLF 2016-10-23 09:07
While I think there is a kernal of truth in Bryan's post's...I think he is a brain controled moron. He has bitten the faux news bait...give them a real problem and then a BS solution that feeds into what WE(read the rich) want.
 
 
+19 # AHP 2016-10-22 02:06
The argument made is very faulty. Who pays for high costs of drugs for prisoners - taxpayers; who pays for high drug costs for Medi-Cal recipients - taxpayers; who pays for the State's portion of high cost prescription coverage for State employees - taxpayers... So this is a just a START. Since who fought tooth, and nail, with every lie, and scare tactic against Universal Healthcare/Impr oved Medicare for All - Republicans! They even fought a Public Option, since the "Free Market" has done so well, giving us the costliest healthcare system, while giving no better outcomes, and leaving millions uninsured vs. every other 1st world country.

And if you think TRUMP cares about anyone other him and his own, you need to have your meds rechecked.
 
 
-14 # Bryan 2016-10-22 09:00
Check you reasoning and brain function none of you are even addressing the points of my comment.
 
 
+7 # ptalady 2016-10-21 23:30
But these gouging cheats are still the very ones RSN editors feel must be considered above even questioning as to whether they produce "safe and effective" injectibles for children, even when they do not have the least accountability through either the tort system (because they have been granted immunity from lawsuits) or the market system (because everyone is mandated to partake of their product)? Yeah, for even raising the question of big pharma's integrity in the area of childhood vaccines, I was rudely invited by RSN to unsubscribe from RSN. Open your eyes! Big Pharma is simply not trustworthy! And their power is truly awesome!
 
 
+11 # EternalTruth 2016-10-22 01:29
"for even raising the question of big pharma's integrity in the area of childhood vaccines, I was rudely invited by RSN to unsubscribe from RSN. Open your eyes!"

That's disturbing, if true. Would RSN care to confirm, deny or clarify this accusation? What article were you commenting on ptlady? Can you quote what RSN said to you?
 
 
+9 # crispy 2016-10-22 02:02
show us specifics of what happened.
 
 
-8 # Bryan 2016-10-22 09:11
'' even when they do not have the least accountability through either the tort system ''

And that is the least of it. But the little babies on here are soooo stupid or lazy they've never bothered to read the laws enacted by both Dems and repubs that protect Pharma and Insurers.
They probably don't even know where the find the laws and bills and never been to thomas.gov to see the bills passed and if they could find them they would have to read them and understand the 'poison pills' inserted in all the 'supposed laws' for the protectionn of the people that are actually protections for their pharma and insurance donors.
Too much work for simple minded the sheep, they'd rather just whine and natter on blogs than make an effort to figure out the game.
 
 
+9 # crispy 2016-10-22 02:10
Lobbyists... let's control who can be a lobbyist to OUR ELECTED officials! It's not free speech it is INFLUENCE.
here is my suggestion:

The Lobbyist reform act limiting their number to 100 maximum (I'd prefer 50) randomly renewed by drawing every 5 years, by drawing from a list of qualified candidates, with a maximum of 2 terms, a maximum pay of 30K + same COLA medicare recipients get(the median 2 earners family income was only 67K in 2010) and representing ONLY people's interests.
Businesses and other entities (Churches, unions, for profit entities...) should be banned from having more than 10 lobbyists (10%) or banned entirely from influence on Congress – ie: zero lobbyist.
It would be a felony, accompanied by a minimum of 10 years in jail for anyone breaking the law - even by having just ties or pay from banned entities.
Lobbyist should also be registered, EVEN if they spend 0.1% of their time lobbying, not over 20%.
No lobbyist shall have more than 3-4 hours of access/year to each elected official.
That would be a start.

What do you think?

Would Hilary support this, or even Bernie?

The current Supreme court would for sure throw the law out since it was ruled that corporations are "people", with right of free speech, but a more progressive court, just respecting the Constitution may not. Where does it say that corporations are people and that money power is equal to speech?
 
 
+10 # Ted 2016-10-22 09:11
Or how about we do it this way...

Use HONEST words to describe "lobbyists" as the BRIBERS they are, arrest and prosecute them for attempting to bribe public officials who have sworn obligations to serve the citizenry alone, and also arrest and prosecute any elected official who is suspected of accepting any bribe from anyone.

Sounds simple enough to me.
 
 
+3 # crispy 2016-10-22 15:17
we still need some kind of law since for now lobbyists are just promising funds for elections which is LEGAL. Getting money out of the system may be the simplified version by a constitutional amendment making it illegal to make contributions unless you are a private citizen and with a ceiling of $50-100 rather than $5400!
WHO, here gave $5400 this year to anyone?
Who gave $33400 to any party?
Unless of course they are part of the 1%?

Who rules the FEC that they would have raised the ceiling in 2016 from $2600 in 2014 (http://www.fec.gov/pages/brochures/contriblimits.shtml) to $5400 when the rule is that an increase is BASED ON INFLATION and applied every 2 years (from the site itself.)That is well over +100%.
Meanwhile people on Social security are getting +0.3% over 2 years...
What inflation number is used by the FEC?
Was the rule busted by Citizen United?
 
 
+4 # RMDC 2016-10-22 12:02
crispy -- good idea. But you'd have to get the law passed by congress and -- guess what -- the lobbyists would kill it.


We are about the elect the Queen of Pay to Play. Those who can pay will get the government to play their tune for them. This is a lobbyist's dream. You can expect things go get dramatically worse very soon.
 
 
+2 # lfeuille 2016-10-22 17:05
We can't effectively regulate lobbyists until we get rid of "corporate personhood". As long as corporations are considered legal persons they have free speech rights and the right to petition government for the redress of grievances.
 
 
+2 # crispy 2016-10-22 21:10
yes I get that but a supreme court case could bring the 2 subjects at once, repeal personhood and rule the "lobbyist act" constitutional. getting it passed though would be a challenge for sure RMDC...
 
 
+11 # Anonymot 2016-10-22 05:25
"Now Is the Time to Stand Up to Big Pharma"

Oh, sure, Bernie. It's time to change the window dressing.

I'm in the EU at the moment. My U.S. doctor prescribed a medicine for me that costs $190 per month with my Walgreen's Club discount, but I don't have insurance for medication and I couldn't afford it. Period.

Here it costs 79€ (=$86)per month, but if you are either a citizen or resident on the State Health program it costs 23€ ($25) and the state health program pays the balance of the 79€.

I assure you, the household name big pharma that introduced this medication 2 years sooner in Europe than in the US, is not losing money over here.

Hillary is married to the US suckers for votes and to big corporations for action. Sorry, Bernie - for both of us.
 
 
+4 # RMDC 2016-10-22 12:06
Anon -- thanks for this story. It is quite clear that Big Pharma can be forced to play by rules that benefit society. In fact, many of the biggest drug companies are located in Europe and they do quite well.

It is only that America is the land of suckers. PT Barnum was right. There's a sucker born every minute. By now the entire population is only suckers.
 
 
+5 # crispy 2016-10-22 22:29
AND, if you have extra private insurance in the EU (as most people do - supplied free by most employers)the final cost is ZERO. No deductibles (at least in France).
I just checked the price of my trenitoin cream:
$175 billed to medicare. Avail online from Canada $16
 
 
+2 # Activista 2016-10-23 14:17
Avail online from Canada $16 ...
What are the links (from USA to Canada) to buy medicine/vitami ns on lime?
 
 
+2 # Activista 2016-10-22 23:40
Excellent Bernie - this is how we can change things - from bellow - now we need only informed/educat ed voters.
" the five largest drug companies made more than $50 billion in profits last year. The top 10 CEOs in the industry received a total of more than $327 million in compensation." these are facts .... and this has to change.
 
 
-1 # joejoe 2016-10-23 22:16
This website censors you - despite what it says above. I noted that Marc (person who operates the blog) tends to post pro Hillary material and almost never discusses Jill Stein. The slant is definitely biased. On occasion I would post something like "Never Hillary and Never Trump." with a explanation as to why. I would also ask that people not donate to Marc as he is biased and probably gets donations from the DNC in any case. I think the worst word I used was "crap." I did not insult anyone. All my posts were removed. I never got into any heated exchange with anyone on this site. My handle was jomo1. I call this censorship. I did not post often, no trolling at all. I though you should know. I suspect this will be pulled shortly as well.

p.s. I am now noticing that it seems like other anti-Clinton commentary has been removed as well. Shame on you Marc.
 
 
-1 # LionMousePudding 2016-10-24 00:55
PS I'm going to clean up your shit on every article you troll, Joejoe.

How dare you tell people not to fund this site! If these articles are worth nothing to you then get the heck out and never read them again. Certainly don't comment.

You have a sense of entitlement which says you may use a service for free and then cause it damage because there are some articles you don't like and others you don't see. It is disgusting.

Marc Ash owes you NOTHING. He does not owe you the articles you want. He puts out this incredible news site that I guarantee you are happily reading about other topics but hey, you deserve those for free because the rest of the articles aren't exactly what you want.

You disgust me. Telling people not to donate to something so important.

Who SHOULD pay? Or is your actual goal to make RSN disappear because it wasn't perfect?

You don't deserve this. I hope I never see your name again.
 
 
+1 # ahollman 2016-10-25 15:04
The US has lower life expectancy than our advanced industrialized counterparts, has (by far!) the world's highest average annual medical costs, and has the greatest disparities in quantity and quality of medical care provided to citizens of different racial groups and economic classes.

Price gouging by Big Pharma is only one of many contributing factors. We can look at what other countries do and learn from them. Some of these countries have a single-payer national health care system. Some have a single-payer basic national health care, plus insurance companies that sell supplemental (beyond basic) insurance for a price. Others have multiple provincial systems that do the same. There are a wide variety of combinations but, in all of them, a substantial portion of national health care is paid for through national or provincial income taxes.

We can also look at ourselves for our own stupidity and hypocrisy. For instance, Republicans, the party of unfettered free markets, wrote the legislation that legally prohibits the US government from negotiating price with drug suppliers.

Republicans also extended the duration of patent protection. Republicans and made legal a "pay to not play" system whereby a drugmaker about to lose patent protection on its drug can pay other would-be makers of a future (and much cheaper!) generic version not to do so. Anywhere else, this de facto extension of patent protection would be considered restraint of trade.
 

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