Senator Bernie Sanders Puts Brakes on Health Agency Nominees Until Drug Pricing Issue is Addressed

Senator Bernie Sanders vowed to oppose President Joe Biden's nominated candidate, Monica Bertagnolli, or any other current or future health agency nominee, to lead the National Institutes of Health until the administration delivers a plan to lower prescription drug prices. 

Last month, the administration announced its intent to nominate Dr. Bertagnolli, a cancer surgeon who currently leads the National Cancer Institute.

"I will oppose all nominations until we have a very clear strategy on the part of the government … as to how we're going to lower the outrageously high cost of prescription drugs," Sanders said late Monday in an interview with The Washington Post.

Sanders, who chairs the Senate Health Committee, can determine when his panel reviews the Department of Health and Human Services nominees. Without the support of the Vermont independent, the Biden administration will face challenges in confirming Monica Bertagnolli as the NIH director or any future health agency nominees.

Read: Eli Lilly CEO Joins Other Pharma Execs, Raises Concern Over Medicare Price Negotiations Impacting Drug Development

The White House issued a statement affirming President Biden's shared concern with Sanders on drug pricing and highlighting the Inflation Reduction Act as a significant step toward addressing the issue. 

The report also pointed out missed opportunities by federal officials to ensure reasonable pricing for new medicines funded partly by taxpayer support.

Senator Bernie Sanders urged the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to immediately address the exorbitant cost of Eisai Co Ltd ESALY/Biogen Inc BIIB Alzheimer's treatment Leqembi (lecanemab). 

In a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, Sanders, who chairs the Senate Health Committee, expressed his deep concern over the annual price for Leqembi at $26,500, which he described as "unconscionable."

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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