Presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) joined the healthcare reform debate with a proposal that would overhaul how Medicare purchases prescription drugs, among other elements aimed at moderating prescription drug costs. Edwards would eliminate the average-wholesale-price method of setting Medicare payments for drugs and instead would have the government negotiate prices directly with drugmakers. The average wholesale price, or AWP, is intended to make sure Medicare receives the market's best price, but federal prosecutors allege that many drugmakers have manipulated the AWP to their advantage. Edwards said he would ask the Justice Department to investigate the prices charged Medicare and fine companies that break the law. Other elements of the plan include revising patent law to keep drugmakers from blocking the entry of generic products and enhancing truth-in-advertising standards. -- by Patrick Reilly
Edwards targets drug costs in healthcare proposal
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