Earlier this month, Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said he would introduce legislation to halt skyrocketing pharmaceutical prices, which the industry raised 12.6 percent last year.

“Americans should not have to live in fear that they will go bankrupt if they get sick,” Sanders said in a press release. “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.”

His office added that the “pharmaceutical industry spent nearly $230 million lobbying Congress last year, some $65 million more than any other industry.”

Sanders said Congress should authorize the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to bring down the cost of drugs purchased through Medicare. “We should use our buying power to get better deals for the American people. Other countries do it. Why don’t we?”

More-affordable generic drugs could be made more widely available, he continued, by making illegal the brand-name industry practice of paying potential competitors to keep lower-priced generics off the market. On average, brand-name drugs cost 10 times more than generics.

“The skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs are an example of the web of bureaucracy and red tape in the American health care system,” Sanders added. “What we need is a national health care system that puts people ahead of profits and health ahead of special interests.”

Sanders’ office repeated what it has said many times: that the senator would soon introduce legislation to provide a single-payer system of health care to extend Medicare services to all Americans.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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