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Kamala Harris introduces plan to lower prescription drug prices

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Sen. Kamala Harris unveiled a plan Tuesday to lower prescription drug prices if she's elected president. 

The senator's plan would task the Department of Health and Human Services with setting "fair" prescription drug prices. The price would be determined in part by looking at the prices for the drug in other industrialized countries such as the United Kingdom and Canada. And if the companies continue to sell the drug at a higher price than the one set by HHS, Harris would have the government tax their profits from the drug at 100%, with the money reallocated to consumers in the form of rebates. 

Under Harris' proposal, if Congress does not act on the proposal within 100 days of her taking office, she would issue an executive action that would launch an investigation into any major prescription companies accused of price gouging. And after a 30-day warning, HHS could import drugs from countries where they are cheaper. Harris says she would also instruct her attorney general to investigate drug prices. 

If a pharmaceutical company still refuses to bring down drug prices, Harris says she would support "march-in" rights, in which the federal government is allowed to award a patent to a company offering lower prices if the drug was developed in part via federal research and development funds. 

The plan could impact millions of seniors nationwide, and Harris plans to discuss new prescription drug proposal Tuesday at an Iowa AARP event. This is at least the fourth policy proposal from Harris that promises to use executive action powers if Congress does not act.

Prescription drug and health care costs are among the top concerns for voters looking ahead to 2020. President Trump campaigned on addressing rising prescription drug costs in 2016, although critics say he has failed to do so. Last week, a federal judge blocked an administration rule that would have required drug makers to disclose medicine prices in TV ads.

Harris, in her proposal, accused Mr. Trump of  handing "Big Pharma" and the health care industry a $100 billion tax cut. Harris also said she wants to do away with the pharmaceutical company tax loophole that allows them to write off direct-to-consumer advertising. 

Last January, New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen introduced a "End Taxpayer Subsidies for Drug Ads Act." Harris co-sponsored the bill, as did a number of her 2020 rivals, including Sens. Kristen Gillibrand, Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren and Michael Bennet.

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