Democrats are putting drug-pricing controls at the heart of their economic platform

Democrats are rolling out “A Better Deal,” an economic platform aimed at winning back voters the party lost in the 2016 election.

One of the biggest points on the populist agenda? Tackling the rising cost of prescription drugs.

The emphasis on drug pricing is one of the three main pillars included in the platform, along with plans to raise wages and “cracking down” on corporate monopolies.

As part of the agenda, Democrats hope to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, as well as set up an agency that can fine companies that implement excessive price increases.

The policies Democrats hope to put in place include:

  • Setting up an independent agency that would call out companies with drugs that have drastically increased in price. The agency would be able to investigate drugmakers and impose fines.
  • Allowing Medicare, specifically Part D, to negotiate drug prices. Part D covers most prescription drugs, and it accounts for 30% of biotech companies’ gross sales. The government currently can’t negotiate prices for drugs under this program.
  • Companies that increase the price of their drugs by a certain amount would have to justify the hike to the Department of Health and Human Services 30 days before the price went into effect. In particular, the hope is to have this provision address price hikes to drugs that Medicare spends the most money on.

This isn’t the first time Democrats have pushed for drug pricing legislation. In 2017 alone, a number of bills addressing everything from pharmaceutical middlemen to drug importation when prices are high have been introduced in the House and the Senate.

On the other side of the aisle, President Donald Trump has called for lower drug prices as well, though he has been largely quiet on the topic in the past few months apart from a reported draft drug pricing executive order. Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb has also been vocal about finding ways for the agency to take on the rising prices, even though the FDA doesn’t directly play a role in setting prices.