Biden Calls Out Big Pharma’s Big Scam During State of the Union

biden big pharma

President Joe Biden called out Big Pharma’s biggest scam during his State of the Union speech Thursday: charging Americans far more for the same drugs than patients in other countries. 

“I’m gonna get in trouble for saying it,” Biden said. “But if any of you want to get into Air Force One with me and fly to Toronto, Berlin, Moscow, excuse me — well, even Moscow, probably — and bring your prescription with you, and I promise you I’ll get it for you for 40 percent [of] the cost you’re paying now. Same company, same drug.”

According to a recent RAND Corporation study, pharmaceutical companies charge 278 percent higher prices for drugs in the United States than in other wealthy countries. Making matters worse, the U.S. government helps fund research and development on all drugs that are approved for sale. Taken together, Americans are paying the world’s highest prices on drugs they are helping finance.

The primary reason pharmaceutical companies have been able to charge such high prices in the U.S. is because Congress for decades barred Medicare from negotiating drug prices, as virtually all other countries do. 

As part of the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, Democrats passed a measure allowing Medicare, the government health insurance program for seniors and people with disabilities, to negotiate prices on a handful of drugs each year for the first time. The drugs up for negotiation this year are all sold in other countries at far lower prices than in the U.S. 

Biden touted the IRA’s drug pricing provisions at length on Thursday.

“With a law I proposed and signed — and not one of you Republican buddies voted for it, we finally beat Big Pharma,” he said, touting the cost savings to both seniors and taxpayers, and calling on Congress to expand the negotiation program. 

“This year Medicare is negotiating lower prices for some of the costliest drugs on the market that treat everything from heart disease to arthritis. Now it’s time to go further and give Medicare the power to negotiate lower prices for 500 different drugs over the next decade.” 


“They’re making a lot of money guys — and they’ll still be extremely profitable,” Biden continued. “That will not only save lives. It will save taxpayers another $200 billion.” 

Biden noted the Inflation Reduction Act provisions will cap seniors’ total prescription drug costs at $2,000 a year, and called on Congress to do the same for the rest of the country.

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