Sen. Bernie Sanders( I-Vt .) plans to propose a new regulation Monday that would require pharmaceutical companies to charge fair prices for drugs developed with taxpayer-backed research, he told HuffPost.
The rule, introduced as an amendment to the 1938 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, would force federal agencies and federally funded nonprofits, such as research universities, to secure a reasonable pricing agreement from a manufacturer before granting it exclusive rights to construct drugs, vaccines or other health care products.
The bill is Sanders’ latest attempt to stop the Department of Defense from awarding drugmaker Sanofi Pasteur an exclusive license to produce a Zika vaccine developed over the past year by the U.S. Army. The mosquito-borne virus is sexually transmitted and causes devastating birth defect. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 181 cases in U.S. states this year alone, with another 532 reported in U.S. territories, such as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
” The days of permitting Sanofi and other medication manufacturers to gouge American customers after taking billions in taxpayer fund must end ,” Sanders told HuffPost.” That is why I am introducing legislation to demand fairer, lower costs for the Zika vaccine and for every medication developed with government resources. This is a fight that we cannot afford to lose .”
The Army granted Sanofi $ 43 million to conduct a second phase of trials on the vaccine, and, if successful, promised another $130 million to conduct a third phase.
Yet the French pharmaceutical giant has refused to agree to sell the drug back to taxpayers at a fair cost, despite demanding a patent that would prevent other drugmakers from competing to manufacture the vaccine at a lower cost.( Sanofi denied rejecting the Army’s request in a series of letters to senators this month .)
” That is simply unacceptable ,” Sanders said of the company’s refusal.” Sanofi and the rest of the pharmaceutical industry cannot be allowed to construct huge earnings on the backs of working class Americans, many of whom cannot afford the drug they are prescribed .”