What do drug prices and leaves have in common? They both are getting ready to fall. ?
The Week in Review in Prescription Drug Pricing
- Welcome, Merith!
- We’re thrilled to welcome Merith Basey as our new executive director here at P4AD! Her arrival comes at a key moment when sweeping reforms to the U.S. drug price system are being implemented and advocates are turning to other key policies to ensure patients and all Americans can afford the drugs they need. “Our number one challenge will be that the pharmaceutical industry is not going to quit overnight,” Basey told STAT in an interview. “They’ve spent hundreds of millions of dollars to prevent Medicare negotiation, and we know that Patients For Affordable Drugs won’t be stopping either.” In a video, Merith also shared her commitment to health equity, which began nearly two decades ago working alongside young people living with type 1 diabetes in Ecuador. “I believe that no one should be poor because they are sick, and nobody should be sick because they are poor,” she shared. “Merith brings extensive knowledge and skill,” our founder David Mitchell stated. “She is a great fit for our organization and will add fresh perspectives that will strengthen us for the future.” — (STAT, P4AD Twitter, P4AD)
2. Celebrating Wins For Patients
- Members of Congress, academics, advocates, and patients continued to celebrate how the drug price reforms in the Inflation Reduction Act will help patients afford their medications. “After years of candidates going out on the campaign trail and telling America that the cost of prescription drugs were too high, we finally did something about it,” Senator Durbinremarked. Senator Baldwin said, “This is real, life-changing relief for working families.” Rep. Golden shared, “Reducing government spending on health care through prescription drug negotiations… is going to put downward pressure on inflation.” Advocates celebrated the historic win, saying, “For the first time in decades, Big Pharma’s relentless grip on their wallets, medicine cabinets and peace of mind will begin to be pried loose.” Brenda Dickason, a retired Tucson police detective and teacher and small business owner, explained how she’s had to make tough choices in order to afford her medication. Brenda told PBS, “So I have to make a choice: Do I go without the EpiPen, or do I buy supplies I need for my job?” The Inflation Reduction Act will provide relief from high prices to millions of patients like Brenda. — (The Filipino Chronicle, Modern Healthcare, Bitterroot Star, Stanford Law School, Senator Durbin, Modern Healthcare, WMTW, Michigan Chronicle, Finger Lake Times, The Daily Sentinel, AZ PBS)
3. Big Pharma Shenanigans
- Bluebird bio broke its own drug pricing record this week after a green light from the FDA for a gene therapy called Skysona. The new record? $3 million per treatment. Skysona is the latest drug in a new trend of specialized gene therapies coming to market at outrageous launch prices that put profits ahead of the needs of patients and the ability of our system to pay. Big Pharma is up to no good with its old drugs too, abusing the patent system to keep drug prices high for patients and to line the industry’s pockets. As Novartis prepares for generic alternatives to its multiple sclerosis drug Gilenya to come to market, the company plans to ask the Supreme Court to take up its drug patent case after an appeals court deemed a Gilenya patent invalid. “If generics launch this year, Novartis expects a $300 million hit to its 2022 revenue guidance,” FiercePharma reports. In an op-ed, Professor Michael Carrier describes a new loophole in the system that Big Pharma is using to maximize profits and keep generics from coming to market. A new ruling puts drug companies in a catch-22, forcing a choice between infringing on the patent or breaking federal drug labeling mandates. “Other generic makers are unlikely to take the same risk against patent holders, leaving patients paying monopoly prices on what ought to be off-patent drugs,” Carrier explains. “These results harm the most vulnerable patients who may not be able to afford high-priced brand drugs.” The common thread throughout? Bigger profits for pharma and high prices for patients. — (FiercePharma, Reuters, FiercePharma, Los Angeles Times)
One more thing: This week, as part of our digital campaign, we looked at how the Inflation Reduction Act will curb yearly drug company price increases to the rate of inflation, helping patients like Lynn and Katherine.
Have a great weekend, everyone!