Senator Bernie Sanders supports Hillary Clinton and yes on California’s proposition 61
By: Albert Jankowski, Xiro Xone News October 31, 2016 Updated: 1:01 PM
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told a Saturday rally that California voters can send a powerful message to the “extraordinarily greedy” pharmaceutical industry by voting to curb skyrocketing prices for prescription medicines.
The rally here and another Friday in Los Angeles kicked off a five-day, six-state swing through the West Coast and Rocky Mountains to campaign for the California proposition and a Colorado ballot initiative calling for a Medicare-for-all, single-payer health care system to care for more patients at lower costs.
Sanders also will campaign in Denver on Sunday with U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for Hillary Clinton’s White House campaign. “Elizabeth Warren and I understand that it’s important to elect Hillary Clinton and defeat Donald Trump and to fight for the Democratic Party platform, the most progressive agenda in the party’s history,” Sanders said. The platform includes calls for breaking up big banks, reinstating Glass-Steagall and raising the minimum wage.
On his second day in California, Sanders pressed the case for the bid to rein in skyrocketing prescription drug prices. “This is an industry that we have got to stand up to, an industry that has got to provide the medicine that people desperately need,” Sanders said. “Our job is to tell the pharmaceutical industry that we will not continue to pay by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.”
Proposition 61 would would essentially prohibit the state from paying more for a drug than the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs does.
The California Drug Price Relief Act gives voters a way to fight back against exorbitant price increases for life-saving drugs like the allergy medication EpiPens. Mylan this year increased the price from $100 to $600. In another example, Ariad has raised the price of the leukemia treatment Iclusig four times this year to about $199,000 a year. Bloomberg reported on Friday that shares for Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc. declined by as much as 15 percent after Sanders in a tweet blasted the latest price hike.
The California ballot initiative is backed by the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation and by the California Nurses Association.
Calling the pharmaceutical industry “a major health hazard to the American people,” Sanders said it is time to “stop the greed, stop the lying, stop the profiteering. Stop charging the American people, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs,” Sanders said.
Total spending on prescription drugs in the U.S. has more than doubled since 2003. Last year alone, the five largest drug companies made more than $50 billion in profits and the top 10 pharmaceutical executives pocketed more than $327 million in compensation.
“The reason that the pharmaceutical industry can charge us any price they want is because of their enormous wealth, power and political connections. Since 1998, they have spent more than $3 billion dollars in lobbying and have made hundreds of millions in campaign contributions. They currently have 1,400 lobbyists on their payrolls in Washington, including former leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties,” Sanders said.