Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday called it “a wild and crazy coincidence” that drug company Moderna announced a plan to offer free COVID-19 vaccines to uninsured Americans just as a Senate committee requested the company testify over its intention to quadruple the cost of the vaccine.
Speaking to CBS News’ “Face The Nation,” the independent from Vermont, who is chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said it was an “amazing coincidence, that happened the same exact day we announced that we were inviting them to testify.”
However, Sanders said, the move was a “a step in the right direction.”
Sanders said, “Taxpayers put billions of dollars into the development of the vaccine, guaranteed sales for the vaccine. And then what happens? After the government stockpile of the vaccine expires, these guys say, ‘Well, we’re going to quadruple the price of the vaccine.’ And, by the way, in the last two years, the CEO made $5 billion, and its other guys made billions of dollars. Is that really what should be happening?”
Sanders added, “Truth is, the pharmaceutical industry is enormously greedy, charging us outrageously, uncontrollably high prices. We’ve got to deal with that. And as chairman of the relevant committee, I intend to do what I can.”
When asked how the cost of prescription drugs can be lowered in a way that doesn’t harm American innovation and at a time when Republicans control the House, Sanders said, “I think we have the basis for bipartisan work to tell the pharmaceutical industry that they really have got to stop ripping off the American people.”
Sanders acknowledged that “the drug companies produce great drugs. But 1 out of 4 people in America cannot afford the price — the drugs that their doctors prescribe. So, of course, we want the drug companies to do the research and development. And, by the way, taxpayers of this country spent $45 billion a year through the NIH [National Institutes of Health] to help with that research and development.”
He said, “The question that I am asking is why, in the richest country in the history of the world … why don’t we have a health care system that works for all? Why do we pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs?”
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