(CN) – Senator Kamala Harris said Tuesday that as president she would implement rate-setting and limits on pharmaceutical industry profits in order to reduce Americans’ out-of-pocket prescription drug costs.
In her latest campaign plank, Harris promises to protect consumers’ wallets by allowing regulators to determine “fair prices” for prescription drugs and by taxing companies that overcharge.
“As president, I will not stand idly by as Americans pay thousands of dollars for prescription drugs while big pharmaceutical companies rake in massive profits. This plan puts people over profit by forcing these companies to reduce prices for consumers and holding them accountable when they gouge Americans,” Harris said in a statement.
Harris touted her success fighting the pharmaceutical industry during her stint as California’s attorney general as proof she can take on drugmakers and their influential lobbyists. She claims to have secured over $230 million in settlement from companies like GlaxoSmithKline, McKesson and Johnson & Johnson for inflating drug prices and shady marketing practices.
The Democrat says shielding seniors and other consumers from exorbitant drug costs will be a staple of her first 100 days in office.
“We need someone who can fight to deliver results for the concerns that keep Americans up at night, like the skyrocketing cost of prescriptions,” Harris said.
Under her proposal, the Department of Health and Human Services would be tasked with setting consumer prices by comparing average drug costs with the 36 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The organization, which includes countries like Japan, Canada and France, has tremendous buying power and accounts for 63% of the world’s GDP.
A Harris administration would push back on companies ignoring the price limits by enacting a 100% tax on profits that exceed the government-mandated fair price. Violators would be forced to return the profits to consumers through rebates.
As senator, Harris has sponsored bills to reduce monopoly periods on new drug approvals and improve access to drugs that reduce the transmission of HIV.
Harris’ plan comes before she’s scheduled to speak at an AARP forum Tuesday in Iowa.
On Monday, former Vice President Joe Biden told a crowd his health care plan would punish drug companies for raising prices above the rate of inflation by removing the specific drugs from Medicare and Medicaid programs. Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker said he would increase access to Medicare by raising the federal asset limit.
Along with rate-setting and new taxes, Harris wants to end a loophole that allows drug companies to write off certain advertising costs. She pegs the loophole at $6 billion annually and says the new tax revenue would be funneled to National Institutes of Health’s new treatment programs.
If Congress fails to act, Harris vows to reveal and reprimand price-gougers through executive action.
“Unlike Donald Trump, Harris won’t allow pharmaceutical companies to put excessive profiteering above public health,” her plan states.