Group will make high drug prices issue in 2018 elections

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., flanked by Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Sen. Bob Casey, Jr., D-Pa., Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, along with Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, speaks during a news conference on legislation which will allow for drug importation while maintaining important safety standards on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017.

Bill Clark | CQ Roll Call | Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., flanked by Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Sen. Bob Casey, Jr., D-Pa., Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, along with Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, speaks during a news conference on legislation which will allow for drug importation while maintaining important safety standards on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017.

A group launched Thursday plans to make rising drug prices an issue from the 2018 midterm elections.

The group, Patients for Affordable Drugs today, will back federal along with state candidates who support legislative efforts to reduce high prescription medication costs, along with target candidates who don’t share those goals.

the idea also will lobby Congress along with state legislatures to “fix our broken drug pricing system,” the group said in a statement.

Americans “are hurting under high drug prices,” said Ben Wakana, president of Patients for Affordable Drugs today.

“What we are trying to do will be demonstrate to elected officials the pain in their districts which people are feeling.”

Wakana, who served as a spokesman for the U.S. Health along with Human Services Department from the Obama administration, said he will be not aware of any previous group which sought to make high drug prices a campaign issue nationally during an election year.

The group said the idea will have a budget of more than $1 million just for This specific campaign cycle.

Wakana said the issue of drug prices transcends political party lines.

He pointed to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll which found 60 percent of Republican voters said lowering prescription drug prices should be a top priority for Congress.

David Mitchell, a cancer patient along with founder of Patients for Affordable Drugs today, said, “Anyone’s who’s been a patient or a family member of a patient knows which drug corporations rake in record profits along with rip off Americans struggling to pay the bills.”

The brand new group, in an announcement of its plans just for This specific election season, noted which drug corporations “spent $20 million lobbying along with donated $246 million to politicians from the last election cycle.”

The group said the idea “aims to act as a counterbalance to the pharmaceutical lobby.”

Wakana said the idea as of yet does not have any specific candidates which the idea plans to endorse or oppose.

yet to come up with those lists, the group already has sent questionnaires to more than two dozen incumbent members of Congress, congressional challengers along with governors requesting information on their plans to lower drug prices.

The group’s launch comes days after President Donald Trump repeatedly said he wants drug prices reduced.

On Monday, at the swearing-in of brand new Health along with Human Services Department Secretary Alex Azar, Trump vowed which the former pharmaceuticals company executive will be “going to get those prescription drug prices way down.”

On Tuesday night, during his State of the Union address to Congress, Trump said, “One of my greatest priorities will be to reduce the cost of prescription drugs.”

“In many some other countries, these drugs cost far less than what we pay from the United States,” Trump said. “along with the idea will be very, very unfair.”

Despite those words, which echo Trump’s criticism of drug prices from the past, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said on the heels of the president’s speech which “I was stunned by the complete along with utter disconnect between his words along with reality.”

Cummings, in an emailed statement, said which he, “More than any some other member of Congress,” has “tried over along with over along with over to work with” Trump on legislation which could help reduce drug prices. Those include a bill which could allow Medicare, the government-run health coverage system for primarily senior citizens, to negotiate directly with pharmaceuticals companies on prices.

Cummings pointed out which he along with Rep. Pete Welch, D-Vt., met with Trump last March to discuss rising drug costs along with which the two congressmen gave the president a draft of the Medicare bill. Trump “seemed enthusiastic about the proposal,” according to Cummings’ office.

“yet all I have heard back will be radio silence,” Cummings said. “Instead, his actions have gone in exactly the opposite direction — tapping a pharmaceutical executive to lead HHS along with giving drug companies one of the biggest tax breaks in history despite their already record profits,” Cummings said.

“These aren’t just empty promises, they are obvious falsehoods. I must keep up trust which the President will finally change course, along with I stand ready to work with him or anyone else should which happen.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Cummings’ remarks.

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