Sen. Jeff Merkley introduces bill to lower prescription drug prices

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced legislation on Thursday that would prevent drug manufacturers to access federal health programs such as Medicare for any drug that exceeds the median price charged in 11 reference countries.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced legislation on Thursday that would prevent drug manufacturers to access federal health programs such as Medicare for any drug that exceeds the median price charged in 11 reference countries. Shortly before the November elections, the Trump administration floated the idea of issuing a new regulation to bring Medicare prescription costs in line with international price levels, but the proposal faces stiff opposition from the conservative movement and congressional Republicans. Democrats made lowering prescription drug prices a central plank of the party’s national message during the midterm campaigns, and lawmakers are now sorting out exactly how they plan to deliver on that promise. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA.) introduced a separate bill taking aim at drug prices earlier this month. None of this Democratic legislation is likely to be enacted so long as Republicans control the Senate, but it serves as a focal point for debate in Washington. "It's a long way from the introduction of a bill to the enactment of a law, but ideas start someplace," says David Mitchell, founder of Patients for Affordable Drugs NOW, a nonprofit devoted to lowering prescription drug prices.