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GOP senators take a sharp left turn on drug prices

U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley speaks from behind a podium as Sen. Rick Scott stands next to him and listens.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL). Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Freshman GOP Sens. Rick Scott and Josh Hawley introduced a new drug pricing bill last week that could have been written by Bernie Sanders, and it's not being attacked by GOP leadership.

The bottom line: The bill would, among other things, ban drug companies from charging Americans a higher list price than they charge consumers in Canada, France, the U.K., Japan or Germany.

Details: The bill doesn't limit this requirement to any particular drug market, meaning it goes much further than the Trump administration's proposal to tie Medicare Part B drug prices to the price of those drugs in other countries.

What they're saying: "I’m sure [Pharma] hate[s] it," Hawley told me. "But look, they're not good actors. I mean, Big Pharma has gotten a sweetheart deal, they’ve gotten huge, they’ve gotten powerful, they’ve gotten rich, and I’m not terribly sympathetic to their position on this."

  • "It’s got people talking, I’ll put it that way," said Sen. John Thune, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, when I asked him about the bill.

My thought bubble: If you haven't yet been convinced that the politics surrounding drug prices has changed, think again.

Go deeper: Congress confronts drug prices