The ongoing debate over the cost of prescription drugs took another
twist as U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT.) has asked the U.S. Department
of Veterans Affairs to use emergency powers to break – or override – the
patents on high-priced hepatitis C medicines sold by several drug
makers, including Gilead Sciences.
The prices have caused a firestorm as both public and private payers
complain the treatments are straining their budgets. Sanders notes the
VA stopped enrolling veterans who need treatment for hepatitis C due to
budget constraints. The agency has already reallocated $400 million on
hepatitis C drugs, but needs additional funding.
“I cannot think of another situation where the government-use
provision [of the law that allows the VA to break the patents] should be
applied,” Sanders wrote in a letter
to Robert McDonald, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary.
“Our nation’s veterans cannot, and should not, be denied treatment while
drug companies rake in billions of dollars in profits.”
Labels: Bernie Sanders, Patents, VA