WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Thursday called on Congress to take steps to lower the cost of prescription drugs in the United States, including allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.
Speaking from the White House, Biden called for the penalizing of drugmakers who raise prices faster than inflation.
“For years, the price of many prescription drugs has dramatically outpaced inflation,” Biden said. “These prices have put the squeeze on too many families and stripped them of their dignity.”
American politicians have been dealing with the nagging issue of drug prices over the years. Former President Donald Trump previously called for lower prices and called for some of the same policies that Biden proposed on Thursday but was not able to get support from Congress.
The President called for Congress to allow Medicare to negotiate prices. He also said people who get insurance through private companies should also be allowed to have Medicare-negotiated prices.
Biden added his plan would put a cap on the number of money seniors spend on prescription drugs at $3,000 a year, or $250 a month.
Some Republicans have been wary about taking federal action on drug companies and the drugmakers are opposed to having the federal government negotiate prices.
“This isn’t a partisan issue. Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cancer — they don’t care whether you’re a Democrat or Republican,” Biden said. “This is another area where we can come together to make a difference in people’s lives.”
Biden said Thursday drug companies do not put enough of their profit toward research and development. He proposed the creation of a $6.5 billion agency within the National Institutes of Health called Advance Research Projects Agency. That would help speed up research for cures for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and cancer.
“I’m not criticizing companies that aren’t prepared to spend billions of dollars on certain projects for research. I get it,” he said. “But if they’re not, we should.”
“To really solve the problem, we need Congress to act,” Biden added.