Why Sen. Bernie Sanders claims with new $373K cancer drug Gilead is ‘once again gouging Americans’

Sen. Bernie Sander (I-Vt.) (Photo courtesy the Bernie Sanders Facebook page)

The Brooklyn-born socialist, who challenged Hillary R. Clinton for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination all the way to the convention, called out the pharmaceutical company Gilead in an  Oct. 19 statement.

“Gilead, one of the greediest pharmaceutical corporations in the world, is once again gouging Americans dealing with a life-threatening illness,” said Sen. Bernie Sander (I-Vt.), after he learned that the company was charging $373,000 for its cancer drug Yescarta. The drug was developed by Kite, the Santa Monica, California-based Gilead subsidiary.

Sanders said he was further incensed that Gilead would charge so much for a drug developed with financial support from the federal government.

“This time, Gilead plans to charge an outrageous $373,000 per patient for a life-saving cancer drug developed with taxpayer money,” he said.

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“What good does a breakthrough medication do if no one can afford it? No one in America should die because they cannot afford the cost of the medication they need, yet that is exactly what will happen if we continue to allow Gilead and other pharmaceutical corporations to charge whatever price they want,” he said.

The Vermont senator, who switched his registration from Democrat back to Independent after the 2016 election said President Donald J. Trump needs to get involved.

““The pharmaceutical industry’s greed must end. It’s time for Congress and President Trump – who has spoken often about drugmakers ‘getting away with murder’ – to take action to lower the cost of prescription drugs in America,” he said.

Dr. Arie Belldegrun, the founder of Kite, said the FDA approval of  Yescarta was a landmark for patients with relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphoma.

“This approval would not have been possible without the courageous commitment of patients and clinicians, as well as the ongoing dedication of Kite’s employees,” said Belldegrun, a fellow of the American College of Surgeons.

“We must also recognize the FDA for their ability to embrace and support transformational new technologies that treat life-threatening illnesses,” he said. The company plans to manufacture Yescarta in Kite’s commercial manufacturing facility in El Segundo, California.

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Neil W. McCabe is a Washington-based political journalist and editor. Before joining Big League Politics, he was the Capitol Hill correspondent for Breitbart News, where he also led Breitbart's political polling operation and wrote up the Breitbart-Gravis polls. McCabe's other positions include the One America News DC Bureau Chief, a senior reporter at Human Events and a staff reporter at The Pilot, Boston's Catholic paper. McCabe also was the editor of The Somerville News, The (North Cambridge, Mass.) Alewife and served as an Army combat historian in Iraq. His 2013 e-book The Unfriendly Skies examined how the American airline industry went from deregulation in the late 1970s to come full circle to the highly-regulated, highly-taxed industry it is today.

 

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