(WTAJ/WKRN) — There are many different pushes in Congress to prevent price gouging on prescription pills.
It’s a rare agreement across party lines on Capitol Hill.
“I tell folks that if I go to church and there’s a Bernie Sanders supporter tugging here, and a Donald Trump supporter tugging there, and they’re agreeing, they’re agreeing on the need to lower healthcare costs,” US Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana) said.
Even with the agreement, it doesn’t mean there’s one solution everyone will support.
Sen. Cassidy, a doctor himself, knows the problem firsthand.
“There’s laws passed to promote innovation. Drug companies preventing a cure for Alzheimer’s or cancer, but those same laws are being used to stifle competition,” he said.
The Republican is working on legislation to change that – to open up the market to generics that treat diseases like diabetes.
“There’s a fellow in Lafayette always emailing me about his daughter’s difficulty affording her insulin. That’s the kind of chronic disease medicine where if you don’t get it, you end up in the emergency room,” he said.
But proposals like Cassidy’s will face strong opposition from the Big Pharma companies making the drugs.
At the most recent congressional hearing on the topic, drug industry leaders told lawmakers their companies need to make a profit on the millions they invest in discovering new medicine.
“Safety improvements, other things that are real improvements and we think that those things should be protected,” said PhRMA Executive Vice President and General Counsel, James Stasnel.
Sen. Cassidy said, “There is, shall we say, heartburn among some, but again I go back to the president. He wants this to happen.”
Before anything can make it to President Donald Trump, Cassidy will have to convince more of his colleagues, starting with hearings on the topic this week.