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Drug Pricing Bill Hits the Skids

Michael Rainey

A bipartisan effort to control drug prices appears to be falling apart this week.

In the pages of The Wall Street Journal Monday, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) accused Democrats of walking away from the negotiations over the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act. Introduced by Grassley and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) in September, the bill would cap out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries while reducing spending by $100 billion over 10 years. But Grassley accused Democrats of now being more interested in making “an election-year talking point” about high drug costs than in lowering prices.

Big Pharma lobbyists and “Republicans who sit on their hands” also get some of the blame for the lack of progress on the bill, Grassley said.

Wyden, who will no longer co-sponsor the legislation, placed the blame on Republicans, saying that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) did not support the bill. “Democrats have not walked away from the table on drug pricing — Republicans never showed up in the first place,” Wyden said, adding that “McConnell and many other Senate Republicans are too afraid of Big Pharma to join our effort” to lower drug prices.

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