Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Rep Peter DeFazio (D-OR) proposed a rule Monday that would end price gouging on prescription drugs and other health care products developed with taxpayer money. Sanders and DeFazio reintroduced their bill, which they first proposed two decades ago with bipartisan support, after drugmaker Sanofi Pasteur refused to agree to fair pricing on a Zika virus vaccine developed with over $1 billion in taxpayer dollars.
The US Army is offering French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi an exclusive license to develop and market a vaccine for the Zika virus. American taxpayers have already spent more than $1 billion on Zika research and prevention efforts, including millions to develop a vaccine. The Department of Health and Human Services gave Sanofi $43 million to develop the vaccine with $130 million in federal funding still to come.
But Sanofi has refused to agree to sell the drug back to Americans at a fair price. Without a fair pricing agreement, the company can charge Americans whatever astronomical price it wants for its vaccine.
“Americans should not be forced to pay the highest prices in the world for a vaccine we spent more than $1 billion to help develop. Sanofi gets more than one-third of its roughly $34 billion in revenues from the United States alone, and its CEO made nearly $5 million in salary last year. Yet they have rejected the U.S. Army’s request for fair pricing. That is simply unacceptable,” Sanders said.
“Americans pay more out-of-pocket for prescription drugs than individuals in any other country, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and France.Additionally, billions of U.S. tax dollars are spent every year underwriting the development and distribution of prescription drugs and insulating private drug companies from direct competition,” said DeFazio. “Bizarrely, there is no adequate regulation on the pharmaceutical industry to ensure drug companies can’t reap massive profits on the taxpayer’s dime. Our legislation will ensure a more equal playing field and rein in the drug companies’ reckless greed.”
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