Senator who says it's 'radical' to lower drug prices got over $100k from pharma


But he supported Trump in 2016 when he ran on lowering prescription drug prices.

Democratic Georgia Senate candidate Jon Ossoff on Tuesday called for allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices — but his Republican opponent's campaign attacked the idea as "radical" and "dangerous" move toward socialism.

Ossoff, who is challenging Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) in November's elections, made the proposal in a new ad.

"Too many are struggling to afford prescriptions. One change in the law could make a huge difference," he tells viewers. "See, Medicare is America's biggest buyer of prescriptions, but the drug companies bought off Congress, and they made it illegal for Medicare to negotiate lower prices. It's straight-up corruption."

Ossoff adds that he's not taking donations from corporate political action committees and "won't let the drug companies rip us off anymore."

The Perdue campaign did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story. But John Burke, Perdue's communications director, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday that letting the government negotiate with private companies somehow amounted to supporting "socialized" health care.

"This kind of agenda during a pandemic isn't just radical, it's dangerous," Burke charged.

Unlike Ossoff, Perdue has accepted a lot of corporate PAC money from the pharmaceutical industry. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, he has received at least $113,500 from pharmaceutical and health product industry PACs since he became a senator in 2015. The industry has opposed negotiating lower drug prices, arguing that lower profits would drive companies to spend less on research and development of new treatments.

But while Perdue now views Medicare price negotiation as radical socialism, he had no such objections four years ago when another candidate ran on the same idea. Donald Trump said in January 2016 that he would "bid out" drugs for the program and that doing so would save $300 billion.

"We would save $300 billion a year. Think of it, one simple thing," Trump told supporters the following month. "But we can’t negotiate with the drug companies because all these guys that I’m running against and others and others won’t allow that to happen. Because the big drug companies have a lobby.”

Perdue enthusiastically endorsed Trump as an "outsider" that June.

Trump continued to promise to lower drug prices through Medicare negotiations after taking office in 2017. Though he caved on the issue in 2018, House Democrats passed a bill last December, on a mostly party-line vote that would incorporate the change.

An analysis by the progressive Center for American Progress found that, because the lower prices would be available to all consumers, the bill could lower patients' costs by thousands of dollars.

Perdue and the Republican majority in the Senate have thus far refused to even bring the House-passed bill up for a vote.

Polls show the race between Ossoff and Perdue to be close. On Tuesday, a Morning Consult poll showed Ossoff ahead 44% to 43%, while a University of Georgia poll found Perdue up by 2 points.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.