The Democratic party has rejected Bernie Sanders' methods of pressuring drug companies on pricing in their nomination for the National Institutes of Health.

The Democratic party has rejected Bernie Sanders’ methods of pressuring drug companies on pricing in their nomination for the National Institutes of Health.

Sen. Bernie Sanders

I attempted to gather Democrats and President Joe Biden to take further action in reducing drug costs, only to find that none of them were present, despite having previously mandated Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies.

On Wednesday, the efforts of the Vermont independent’s campaign were dealt a setback when Democrats and Republicans united to support Biden’s nominee for the National Institutes of Health, despite Sanders’ opposition.

, supporting her

The committee, led by Sanders, passed a vote of 15-6 to approve Dr. Monica Bertagnolli, with five Republicans, including the top member of the panel, also backing her. Bill Cassidy

All 10 Democrats in Louisiana came together.

The Democrats did not accept Sanders’ argument that Bertagnolli had not shown a willingness to confront the greed and influence of pharmaceutical companies and the healthcare industry, and advocate for the necessary changes at the NIH during this crucial time.

I am impressed by Dr. Bertagnolli’s thoughtful handling of the various public health issues that our country is currently facing, according to Senator.Maggie Hassan

(D-N.H.) expressed their excitement for her future leadership at NIH in a statement.

The GOP’s votes in favor of Bertagnolli indicate that there are members of the party who want to revive bipartisan backing for the NIH, which declined during the pandemic.

Numerous members of the Republican party hold the belief that the coronavirus originated from a Chinese laboratory that received funding from the NIH. Some have also accused former NIH Director Francis Collins and his top subordinate, Dr. Anthony Fauci, of concealing the potential of a lab leak.

However, Cassidy expressed his desire on Wednesday to move on from the past.

Cassidy stated that the future NIH director must actively involve all stakeholders and exhibit strong leadership in order to regain the trust of both the American public and Congress. He also mentioned his intention to collaborate with the director and hold her accountable for meeting this challenge.

The five Republicans’ support, along with that of other GOP senators who are not on the committee, means Bertagnolli’s confirmation is likely assured, once Majority Leader Chuck Schumer

Presents it for a vote on the floor.

The third-highest ranking Republican in the Senate stated that she is highly qualified.John Barrasso
At her confirmation hearing last week, [NAME] presented Bertagnolli, a colleague from Wyoming.

Barrasso disregarded Sanders’ objection as insignificant to her qualifications: “It pertains to his disagreement with the administration on an unrelated issue.”

It appears that Sanders was defeated in that battle.

Sanders delayed Bertagnolli’s confirmation hearing for five months following his announcement this past spring that he would block Biden’s nominees for health care positions until the president provided a comprehensive plan to decrease drug prices.

However, Democrats have shown a greater focus this year on showcasing the Medicare drug price negotiations that were achieved in the Inflation Reduction Act of last year. These negotiations aim to decrease the prices of 10 expensive drugs starting in 2026, with further reductions in the following years. Senator Sanders believes that Biden’s attempts to lower drug prices have not been as successful as they could be, but Democrats have chosen to emphasize their accomplishments in this area.

When inquired about Sanders’ resistance, a representative from the White House referenced actions the administration has implemented to decrease the cost of drugs.

The official stated in an email that the President and Senator share concerns regarding drug pricing. This led to the President passing the Inflation Reduction Act, which is considered the most significant law in addressing the expensive prices of prescription drugs.

Biden frequently praises the Medicare negotiations as a major accomplishment during his time as president, but he did not provide Sanders with a detailed plan. Democratic senators who are hoping to run for president in 2024 did not support Sanders’ efforts to put pressure on the issue.

And Sanders relented, announcing last month

He would give his committee permission to review Bertagnolli’s case once the administration made an agreement with drug company Regeneron to restrict the cost of a Covid treatment that is being created with support from NIH.

A former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, told POLITICO it’s

It is improbable that the agreement will ever come into effect..

“Referencing one specific case that was significantly unbalanced and implying a change in policy may be misguided,” commented Richard Frank, who heads the Brookings Schaeffer Initiative on Health Policy. He expressed skepticism about the impact of the Regeneron agreement.

However, supporters of fair drug pricing, like Peter Maybarduk from Public Citizen, believe that Sanders’ efforts have established a significant precedent. Maybarduk stated, “There is still a lot of work to be done, but we see this as a step in the right direction. Despite the challenges posed by the political climate, the senator has made tangible progress in an industry that has been resistant to change.”

At her confirmation hearing last week, Sanders inquired of Bertagnolli whether she would strive for stricter contractual terms with pharmaceutical companies that receive assistance from NIH. However, she declined to answer.

Earlier this week, Sanders requested for the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services to look into a potential patent license that the NIH was considering granting to a lesser-known company connected to a former NIH researcher.

Ultimately, Sanders permitted his committee to cast a vote on Bertagnolli and declared that he would refrain from persuading Democrats to reject her.

“According to Sanders, this should be a vote based on personal beliefs and principles,” stated on Tuesday.

Even though Cassidy asked Bertagnolli if she would avoid interfering in drug pricing during her confirmation hearing, she avoided answering. However, Democrats did not join Sanders in questioning her about the matter and stated that they were eager to collaborate with her on important health matters such as Alzheimer’s disease and the opioid crisis.

According to Larry Levitt, the executive vice president at KFF, a health policy research group, Democrats are dedicated to reducing drug prices, but are currently waiting for the appropriate moment. He also mentioned that the Inflation Reduction Act is expected to be a key focus in Democrats’ 2024 election campaigns.

“Democrats are all-in on efforts to lower drug prices,” he said. “But it’s a little messy to pair a debate about drug prices with the nomination of an NIH director.”

This report was a collaboration between David Lim and Ben Leonard.