SAN FRANCISCO -- Former U.S. presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders hosted a rally in San Francisco Saturday in support of Proposition 61.
The rally took place at the Yerba Buena Ballroom inside the Marriott Marquis Hotel. Sanders held a similar rally in Los Angeles Friday in support of the proposition.
Proposition 61, also known as the California Drug Price Relief Act, aims to lower prescription drug prices statewide for patients on Medicare by requiring that the state negotiate with drug companies for prescription medication that costs no more than the prices paid for the same drugs by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, according to proponents.
Sanders called the pharmaceutical industry "a major health hazard to the American people," Sanders said in a statement that it was time to "stop the greed, stop the lying, stop the profiteering. Stop charging the American people, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs."
Prescription drug spending in the U.S. has increased more than twofold in the last 13 years, Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs said. In 2015, the five largest drug companies made more than $50 billion, and the top 10 pharmaceutical executives earned more than $327 million.
"The reason that the pharmaceutical industry can charge us any price they want is because of their enormous wealth, power and political connections," Sanders said in a statement.
"Since 1998, they have spent more than $3 billion in lobbying and have made hundreds of millions in campaign contributions. They currently have 1,400 lobbyists on their payrolls in Washington, including former leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties," Sanders said.
Proposition 61 is the only initiative on the November ballot in all 50 states that addresses drug companies raising prices on prescription medication, according to proponents of the initiative.
Opponents of Proposition 61 believe the reduced prices would only apply to a limited number of state drug purchasing programs, while excluding the vast majority of Californians and limit patient access to medicines while increasing taxpayer costs.
Television ads featuring Sanders supporting Proposition 61 are currently airing statewide.
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