Democrats Drug Prices

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., center, joined from left by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., speaks to reporters as he prepares to introduce new legislation that aims to reduce what Americans pay for prescription drugs, especially brand-name drugs deemed "excessively priced," during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — Challenging President Donald Trump to make good on his pledge to cut prescription drug prices, congressional liberals proposed legislation Thursday to bring U.S. prices in line with the much lower costs in other countries.

The Democratic bills stand little chance of becoming law in a divided government. But the effort could put Republicans on the defensive by echoing Trump’s pledge to force drugmakers to cut prices.

Democrats and Trump agree that people in the United States shouldn’t have to pay more for their medications than do those in other economically advanced countries.

The Trump administration has put forward its own plan for reducing drug prices, but industry analysts have seen little impact so far. The pharmaceutical industry said the Democratic bills would “wreak havoc on the U.S. health care system.”

The new legislation was offered by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and others. Cummings leads the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is expected to take a major role on drug pricing.

The lawmakers want to:

— Open up generic competition to patent-protected U.S. brand-name drugs that are deemed “excessively priced.”

— Allow Medicare to directly negotiate with drugmakers.

— Let consumers import lower-priced medications from Canada.

There was no immediate response from the administration.

“Today I say to President Trump, if you are serious about lowering the cost of prescription drugs in this country, support our legislation and get your Republican colleagues on board,” Sanders said at a Capitol Hill press conference.

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