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Public Statements

Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act Of 2007--Motion To Proceed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. OBAMA. Mr. President, I am extremely disappointed by the Senate's failure to consider a bill that would have placed the needs of seniors ahead of the profits of the health industry. Once again, a minority of the Senate has allowed the power and the profits of the pharmaceutical industry to trump good policy and the will of the American people.

We have a major crisis in this Nation, and that is the rising cost of health care. Over the last century, the Nation has witnessed tremendous advances in medical science and technology, and we now have treatments and cures for diseases and conditions that were at one time surely fatal.

Yet we are paying the price for this success. Health care, particularly the cost of drugs, is becoming increasingly unaffordable. Over the last decade the cost of drugs has quintupled, now totaling almost $200 billion. In 2005, the drug companies' profit was 16 percent of their revenues, compared to only 6 percent for all Fortune 500 firms. The total profit of the top 7 U.S. based drug companies was $34 billion in 2004, and, if you add it up, their CEOs were paid $91 million that same year. Clearly, the new drug benefit in Medicare has been a tremendous boon for the drug companies, adding to these extreme profits.

The growth in the cost of drugs has slowed in recent years, in part because of greater use of generic drugs. But given the pricetag, and the financial challenges of our health care system, we can--and must--take additional steps to curb how much we are spending on drugs.

Allowing the Federal Government to negotiate for lower drug prices in the Medicare Program would have been an important step forward in this regard. When you look at the prices the Federal Government has negotiated for our veterans and military men and women, it is clear that the government can--and should--use its leverage to lower prices for our seniors as well.

Drug negotiation is the smart thing to do and the right thing to do, and it is unconscionable that we were not able to take up this bill today.


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