Bernie Sanders Targets Big Pharma Ahead Of Hearing

Independent left-wing Senator Bernie Sanders has declared war on America’s drug companies and accused them of “ripping off the American people.” The Senator has produced a report with the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, in which drug giants Johnson & Johnson, Merck, and Bristol Myers Squibb are named as culprits and accused of raising drug prices in the US, while the cost of the same medicines falls in other countries.

In 2015, for example, Merck began selling the cancer drug Keytruda at an annual cost of $147,000 in America but $132,000 in Germany. In 2023, the drug cost $89,000 in Germany but $191,000 in the United States. In further examples noted, the report claims that launch costs have also exploded in the US, from a median cost of $14,000 in 2004 to $238,000 last year.

Drugs are usually much cheaper in European nations, partly because governments intervene to control prices. President Biden aims to do the same in America and announced ten medicines that would be negotiated down last August. “For far too long, Americans have paid more for prescription drugs than any major economy,” Biden said.

Senator Sanders agrees, and at a Senate Health Committee hearing on February 8, he grilled representatives of major drug firms, whom he said control the US government and not the other way around.

CEOs of Merck, Johnson & Johnson, and Bristol Myers Squibb were questioned at the hearing, and while they acknowledged price increases, they blamed this on the broader healthcare system. Questioned about price differences in the US and Canada, Chris Boerner, CEO of Bristol Myers Squibb, said he could not commit to lower prices in the future because “these two countries have very different systems.”

Senator Sanders has long criticized American drug manufacturers and labeled them as “extremely greedy.” He says that his mission is to increase awareness among the American public about the tactics used by the firms to make “as much money as possible.”