A Media Matters review of weekday evening news coverage on cable and broadcast networks since December reveals that the evening programs largely ignored the problem of escalating prescription drug prices in the United States, even though lawmakers have introduced legislation aimed to address the issue.
Democrats Introduced A New Bill To Fight Escalating Prescription Drug Costs In The U.S.
The Hill: Sanders First Introduced Amendment Allowing Prescription Imports Last December. The Hill reported on December 6 that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) had introduced an amendment to the 21st Century Cures Act that would have allowed prescription drug imports from other countries while also allowing Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies for lower prices. Republicans in the Senate blocked the amendment, which Sanders framed as a way to fulfill then President-elect Donald Trump’s promise to help lower drug prices. [The Hill, 12/6/16]
Wash. Post: Democrats Introduced A Bill “To Allow Commercial Importation Of Drugs From Canada.” The Washington Post reported last month that Sanders “and a slew of Democratic colleagues” introduced a prescription drug bill in the Senate “to allow commercial importation of drugs from Canada,” where they often cost substantially less than American pharmaceuticals do. The article noted that “through cheap imported drugs, the United States would be able to take advantage of the government levers and regulation that other countries have used to bring down pharmaceutical prices.” From the February 28 article:
Opening a new front in the war against big pharma, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and a slew of Democratic colleagues introduced a bill Tuesday to allow commercial importation of drugs from Canada.
The appeal is obvious; through cheap imported drugs, the United States would be able to take advantage of the government levers and regulation that other countries have used to bring down pharmaceutical prices. It's a far more politically palatable way to attack the problem of soaring drug prices than opening up an even more contentious fight over whether the U.S. government should meddle directly in pricing — and it has had wide popular and bipartisan support, including from Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump during the presidential campaign.
In an afternoon news conference unveiling the bill, Democratic and independent lawmakers threw down the gauntlet, calling on President Trump — who has repeatedly said that he will do something to rein in rising drug prices — to support their effort.
“I want to finally say about our president, who has said a lot of talk about health care and has recently confessed how 'complicated’ he thinks it is. He has made promises to the American people about prescription drug prices; he has made promises to the American people, and now it's time for him to put up or shut up,” said Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who joined as a co-sponsor after voting against drug importation when it was an amendment. “It’s time for him to join with us, or, in my opinion, to confess his lies to the American people.” [The Washington Post, 2/28/17]