Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders may not always see eye to eye, but one thing they agree about is the drug industry. Specifically, Sanders agrees with the president-elect’s assessment that the pharmaceutical industry is charging too much and is essentially getting away with “murder.” Anyone who watched Martin Shkreli jack up the price on an AIDS drug — one that was very inexpensively replicated by Australian teens — is familiar with this issue.
Sanders has had a packed schedule this week, as he was staging a protest for the Senate’s overnight session to repeal Obamacare. So, he may not have caught all of Trump’s whirlwind first presidential press conference, but one thing he paid attention to was Trump’s thoughts on the pharmaceutical industry. Trump said the U.S. should establish a new drug bidding process, as drugs are growing too expensive.
Under the current plan, patent monopolies largely eliminate competition, which makes it difficult for the prices to be lowered. Trump said this business mentality lets pharmaceutical companies get away with murder:
“We have to … create new bidding procedures for the drug industry, because they’re getting away with murder. Pharma has a lot of lobbies, a lot of lobbyists and a lot of power … we’re the largest buyer of drugs in the world, and yet we don’t bid properly. And we’re going to start bidding and save billions of dollars.”
Sanders told The Huffington Post that Trump may not have fully researched the process but still agreed with him:
“You know what? He’s right. And I’ve been saying that for years. Pharma does get away with murder. Literally murder. People die because they can’t get the prescription drugs they need. Sometimes he copies my statements I don’t know if he got that one from me.”
But the issue may not be resolved anytime soon, as The Huffington Post reported prescription drug prices are rising at an average of 18 percent a year, and Trump stresses that there’s an army of lobbyists to keep it that way. It may take some time, but these recent comments by The Bern may be baby steps to a glimpse of bipartisanship.