Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) slammed Joe Biden (D) Sunday following reports of the former vice president praising drug companies at a fundraiser over the weekend.
Biden attended a Dallas fundraiser hosted by craniofacial surgeon David Genecov on Saturday and praised drug companies amid his top challengers’ concerns with the pharmaceutical industry’s focus on profits.
“By the way, great drug companies out there — except a couple of opioid outfits,” Biden said at the fundraiser, according to Bloomberg:
Biden’s comment came during a discussion of medical research and the cancer “moonshot” initiative he launched during the Obama administration following the death of his son, Beau Biden, in 2015. That effort included his push for companies to collaborate more on research.
But he sounded a discordant note in praising the companies themselves — and not the research he intended to praise specifically — given the near-universal agreement in both parties that companies set drug prices too high, and given his own efforts to further regulate the industry.
Sanders slammed Biden’s praise of drug companies in a tweet Sunday.
“I disagree with Joe Biden. The pharmaceutical companies are greedy, corrupt and engaged in price fixing,” he tweeted:
I disagree with Joe Biden. The pharmaceutical companies are greedy, corrupt and engaged in price fixing. https://t.co/SXANOMKeXp
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) September 15, 2019
Sanders also slammed Biden in a statement, per the Hill:
At a time when their behavior is literally killing people every day, America needs a president who isn’t going to appease and compliment drug companies — we need a president who will take on the pharmaceutical industry – whether they like it or not. When we defeat Donald Trump, that’s exactly what we are going to do.
Sanders has been a long-time critic of the pharmaceutical industry and has called to cut drug prices in half.
“If I am elected president, I’m going to cut prescription drug costs in this country by 50 percent so that we are not paying any more than other major countries are paying,” Sanders told Face the Nation in March. “Maybe we can do better than that.”
“The five major companies made 50 billion dollars in profits last year,” the Vermont senator continued. “They pay their CEOs outrageous compensation packages. If they don’t like that, then we’ll take a look at their patents.”
In the same interview, Sanders suggested President Trump approves of skyrocketing health insurance costs and said “thousands of people will literally die” if Trump “gets his way.”
“If Trump gets his way, the cost of health insurance for you will be so high that many people literally will not be able to afford it. Thousands of people will literally die,” he said. “That’s Trump’s health insurance plan.”
“My plan’s just a little bit different. I think we should join the rest of the industrialized world. Guarantee health care to all people as a right,” he added, teasing his Medicare for All plan, which – by some estimates – could cost over $60 trillion over the next decade alone.
In the United States, drug companies can charge whatever they want and raise prices whenever they want. That's not the case in other countries around the world.
We've got to stop letting pharma rip off the American people.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 26, 2019
A medicine that cost $400 in 2006 is now, on average, more than $1,200.
We have got to end the greed of the pharmaceutical industry which is killing Americans.
We should allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices and let Americans import safe, affordable medicine from Canada.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 19, 2019
Biden, for his part, has called to lower drug prices while continuing to build on Obamacare. He would do this, in part, by limiting launch prices, limiting drug price increases, and “allowing consumers to purchase prescription drugs from other countries,” according to his plan.