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As the Trump administration labors to execute its blueprint for tackling high drug costs, a group of Democratic lawmakers introduced a bill on Wednesday that would allow the federal government to negotiate on behalf of Medicare — and authorize licenses for lower-cost generics when talks fail.

Unlike other bills that would permit negotiations over Part D drugs, the legislation would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to pursue a generic alternative by issuing a competitive license when a company refuses to offer a reasonable price. In effect, the bill would create a new mechanism for the U.S. government to sidestep patents when it would be in the public interest to do so.


The Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act arrives as prescription drug pricing becomes more contentious than ever, and President Trump attempts to make good on long-standing promises to lower costs. So far, a few large drug makers —including Pfizer, Novartis, and Roche — agreed to defer or freeze price hikes while the blueprint is worked out. And Trump has won favorable publicity as a result.

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