Photo and story by Travis Cameron / Contributing Writer
Former Tennessee Governor and Senate hopeful Phil Bredesen paid a visit to Beckman’s Prescription Shop in Murfreesboro on Wednesday to discuss his plan for affordable prescription drugs with shop owners and customers inside the store.
Bredesen said pharmaceutical companies charge exorbitant prices in the United States and that his framework for reform is straightforward, actionable and doesn’t “nibble around the edges.”
He explained that under the current system, drug companies charge one price for a drug in other countries and another price in America. The vast majority of the time, the American price is significantly higher than the foreign price, often two or three times as much.
Bredesen said this is unfair to American consumers and proposed a “Most Favored Nations Clause.” This type of clause – that mandates that a seller must give the same price to all buyers – is commonly used in businesses to ensure that a party gets the best deal possible.
In Bredesen’s plan, this means that drug companies would have to charge the same prices for drugs internationally. Bredesen gave an example.
“If you sell it to Germany for $25, sell it to us for $25,” Bredesen said.
The purpose of his plan is to create an equal playing field for all purchasers of prescription drugs.
A big argument for the clause is that Americans are footing the bill for drug research and development. Bredesen said all buyers should have to pay for drug development costs.
“It’s not a bumper sticker,” Bredesen said. “The plan will face opposition from all sides, especially lobbying from large pharmaceutical companies that want to keep their profit margins high. There is little incentive for these companies to lower their prices.”
However, Bredesen appeared optimistic, calling the Most Favored Nations Clause easy to understand. He championed the idea as one that everyone can get behind, regardless of political affiliation.
Bredesen said that the idea is straightforward: make prescription drugs affordable for Americans, and share the research and development costs fairly. He also said that his overall goal is to improve life for average Americans by saving them money and increasing access to badly needed medicines.
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