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Liberal members of Congress recently announced an agreement that grants federal bureaucrats the power to arbitrarily set drug prices as an approach to “lower drug costs.” While some may be fooled and perceive this idea as a sound solution, it is nothing more than a desperate plea to pass some form of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan ahead of the midterm elections.

Advertised as Medicare “negotiation,” the truth behind Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) drug pricing deal is far from the real definition of “negotiation.” In fact, the language is the exact opposite and is misleading to most Americans who may not understand the ins and outs of our health-care system.

Sen. Schumer claims that Medicare would directly “negotiate” drug prices with manufacturers. But, in reality, price controls would be imposed on certain medications and treatments, eliminating the private sector from having a say in the new set price.

This proposal is a slap in the face to the drug manufacturers that developed the COVID-19 vaccines in record time, and it would set the U.S. back as the global leader in medical innovation.

Price controls have proven to stifle innovation and R&D in other parts of the world for decades. This would be a hazardous approach for the U.S. to take on as the country emerges from a global pandemic. Under government price-setting, manufacturers struggle to accurately forecast their markets, ultimately driving down their incentives to invest time, energy, and money in treatment development. Cures for mild to the most severe illnesses would consequentially take longer to reach pharmacies, putting some patients on a wait list that they don't have time to be on.

Another ludicrous element of the agreement is the outrageous excise tax that drug manufacturers would face if they can't afford to comply with the cost determined by the government. The tax could reach up to 1,900 percent. This penalty is simply unrealistic and sets an absurd precedent for compliance.

Democrats are attempting to put drug manufacturers in the spotlight and paint them as the problem behind drug costs. Meanwhile, Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), aka the “Middlemen of Medicare,” are getting away with pocketing savings meant to lower patients' costs at the pharmacy counter. The three largest PBMs in the country – CVS Caremark, Express Scripts, and OptumRx – control roughly 80 percent of the total PBM market share and have the power to determine which drugs insurance companies will cover and how much patients have to cough up at the pharmacy counter. By repealing the rebate rule under the new drug pricing agreement, these harmful practices will continue, and corporate go-betweens will rake in even more savings intended for patients.

Addressing the cost of high medicine with price controls is like trying to fix your car’s engine by simply turning off the ”Check Engine” warning on your dashboard. It’s not a logical approach and would lead to adverse outcomes down the road for patients and our health-care system at large. Real drug pricing reform requires an overhaul of the Food and Drug Administration and the billions of dollars and many years it takes to bring a drug to market.

Democrats’ radical drug pricing deal is just another political play, and members across the aisle cannot remain silent, or else Americans will end up paying the price.

David Williams is the president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.