Who knows if the rumors are true about BTS breaking up?
But what we do know is that we WILL break up Big Pharma’s monopoly pricing power.
Welcome to the Week in Review.
1. Reconciliation: It’s Alive!
- The momentum to pass a reconciliation bill with drug pricing reforms is building as talks between Leader Schumer and Senator Manchin have progressed, with the majority leader’s staff reportedly taking the next steps to line up a vote for later this summer. President Biden said he believes the votes are there to pass drug pricing reform in an AP interview, and Speaker Pelosi also expressed optimism for the reconciliation bill, saying, “It’s alive.” Meanwhile, patients, advocates, and physicians wrote opinion pieces this week urging Congress to act quickly to lower drug prices. “It’s unfair that patients like me have to shell out thousands of dollars just to stay alive. We deserve better,” shares Bob Parant, a New York patient who lives with type 1 diabetes. “Policymakers face a choice: let prescription drug costs continue to rise unchecked, placing patients and families at continued risk, or pass sensible reforms that would make drugs more affordable for all Americans,” four doctors write. — (Politico, AP, New York Daily News, The Exponent-Telegram, The Hill, MedPage Today, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
2. Three Pinocchios For Pharma Front Group ? ? ?
- A new fact check from The Washington Post debunks an ad from the pharma front group 60 Plus Association that dishonestly characterizes the drug pricing reforms before the Senate as a plan that would “strip $300 billion from Medicare” and leave patients with “fewer treatments and cures.” The truth? According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s analysis, the reforms will save taxpayers and the federal government $300 billion while only reducing the number of new drugs coming to market by 0.8 percent over the next 30 years. In a desperate move to maintain the industry’s unfettered pricing power, pharma-allied groups are filling the airwaves with lies. Americans know better. — (The Washington Post)
3. Pulling Back The Curtain On Blood Thinners
- In a letter to the Federal Trade Commission this week, Senator Klobuchar and Rep. Porter called on the agency to investigate the lockstep price hikes on the blood thinners Eliquis and Xarelto and whether they constitute a violation of antitrust laws. Eliquis and Xarelto, manufactured by BMS/Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, respectively, were the subjects of a recent P4AD report examining how the systematic price increases and patent gaming on these drugs hurt patients and raise costs for taxpayers. We applaud the senator and representative for taking on the pharmaceutical industry and fighting on behalf of patients. — (FiercePharma)
4. More Wins For Patients!
- On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions passed an FDA bill that included three amendments to boost competition in the drug pricing system by easing the process for generic competition to come to market. One of the amendments, based on legislation P4ADNow has been advocating for since 2018, would close a loophole in the citizen petition process that brand-name drug makers have exploited to slow the approval of lower-priced generics to keep prices high. We thank Senators Murray, Baldwin, Hassan, and Paul for championing these amendments and urge the full Senate to pass this package with the citizen petition, orphan drug, and generic drug approval transparency reforms intact. — (P4ADNow)
5. Eyes On PBMs
- The FTC is setting its sights on the byzantine practices of pharmacy benefit managers. On Thursday, the commission voted to study PBMs’ usage of rebates to determine if the system contributes to an anticompetitive prescription drug market that keeps prices high, and specifically pointed to insulin as a drug that has experienced soaring prices in part due to rebates paid to PBMs. This vote comes as a whistleblower suit alleges that CVS used its subsidiaries, including its PBM, Caremark, to push patients toward brand-name medications instead of cheaper generics in order to obtain higher rebates. The FTC’s decision to shine a light on these corporations and inject more transparency into the drug system is another welcome move for patients. — (Reuters, Endpoints News, FiercePharma)
One more thing: A new Gallup poll reveals that about 17 million Americans over 50 years old said they or a family member have not taken medication as prescribed to save money in the past year.
Have a great weekend, everyone!