House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said last week that she is pushing to attach drug price cutting legislation to the major budget bill carrying most of President Biden’s $4 trillion economic agenda in the coming months.
The Speaker slammed drug companies for the level of stock buybacks and dividends in recent years and argued that cuts to prices will not harm research and development spending given new findings on buybacks.
The House Democratic bill would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, and then force drug companies to lower the prices they charge private insurers or impose huge fines on the companies. Pelosi said she wants it to be part of a special budget bill that can pass the Senate without Republican support since it is immune from the filibuster.
A report released by the House Oversight Committee last week said that from 2016 to 2020, the 14 top drug companies spent $577 billion on stock buybacks and dividends. That is some $56 billion more than the amount spent on research and development, the report said.
However, pharmaceutical companies have sent in multitudes of lobbyists to stop the House Democrats bill, arguing that it would deter the creation of new drugs and lead to suffering and death.