Our Opinion: Allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices

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Exorbitant prices for prescription drugs is not a new problem but recent news stories on obscenely high prices have galvanized the public. There is at least one good way to address the issue.

Medicare is prevented from using its considerable bargaining power to negotiate lower drug prices. It uses this leverage elsewhere in the medical industry but the pharmaceutical industry, a major campaign contributor, didn't want the federal government to have this power and its congressional minions have prevented it. That has to change.

Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has made lifting that ban and requiring Medicare to use its clout in negotiating prices with the major pharmaceutical clients a central component of his campaign platform. The companies' whining that efforts to rein in their price-gouging will hamper research rings hollow as they continue to pay outrageous bonuses to their corporate executives, not to the medical professionals working in the trenches.

A poll conducted by Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health and STAT, The Boston Globe's online health and life-science publication, revealed last week that 69 percent of Americans want Medicare to negotiate drug prices. This percentage indicates that conservatives who are generally anti-government realize that only the federal government can prevent the drug industry from pricing Americans out of the market for necessary medicine.

With the 2016 election campaign already in full swing it may be hard to find a candidate who will stand with the drug company giants in their opposition to negotiate fair prices for consumers with Medicare. This is a reform measure whose time has come.


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