Capitol dome
The U.S. Capitol dome is seen at night in Washington, U.S., December 17, 2020. REUTERS/Erin Scott.

Fourteen San Diego County elected officials joined a national battle between centrist and progressive Democrats on Wednesday, sending a letter to President Biden and members of Congress urging passage of drug price controls for people covered by Medicare.

The group included Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, Supervsior Nora Vargas, City Council President Jennifer Campbell, Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blackspear and three members of the San Diego Unified District board.

Their letter cited a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to bring down drug prices through the budget reconciliation package being negotiated in Congress.

“Not only does giving Medicare the power to negotiate help patients at the pharmacy counter, but it would save the federal government $500 billion, which could be reinvested to strengthen health care for millions,” according to the letter.

Rep. Scott Peters wasn’t mentioned in the letter, but he is one of the leaders of a group of centrist Democrats who oppose the legislation, saying it could reduce the incentives for medical research and drug development.

Peters, whose 52nd District is one of the three top locations for biomedical research and drug development in the United States, has offered an alternative drug-pricing plan that has drawn support from many organizations representing people who suffer from chronic and currently incurable diseases.

But progressives accuse drug companies of unfairly setting high prices for existing life-saving medications.

“As Big Pharma ramps up its campaign against this legislation, San Diego-area mayors and local elected officials are asking leaders in Washington to stand up to the opposition of profit-hungry pharmaceutical companies in order to prioritize the health of all Americans,” the letter states.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.