Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont cast the only vote against a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) user fee reauthorization bill that passed the Senate Thursday in an overwhelming majority of 94 to one.
Sanders voted against the bill, which facilitates the collection of fees from drug and medical device companies, because it “does nothing to lower drug prices and is a giveaway to the pharmaceutical industry,” Sanders spokesman Josh Miller-Lewis told Axios.
The bill includes a provision to lower drug prices by requiring that the FDA accelerate the approval process for generic drugs that would disrupt treatment areas where there is currently little to no competition. The bill will go directly to President Donald Trump to be signed into law since the Senate approved the House version.
The bipartisan legislation, introduced by GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, represents a rare instance of legislative unity on health care. The bill passed after a “right to try” provision, which gives terminally ill patients access to experimental treatments, was added to appease Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.
The fees collected under the FDA’ s renewed authority will total more than $8 billion over the next five years, and will account for one quarter of the FDA’s budget.
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