What. A. Year. Here’s a look back at this momentous moment in drug pricing.
Welcome To The Week In Review.
- History Was Made: A New Era For Drug Prices Beginsrs Of Congress Call Out Big Pharma For Covid Vaccine Price Gouging
- After the culmination of a decades-long fight, history was made when Congress passed and President Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act, which will lower prescription drug prices and cap out-of-pocket costs for at least 50 million Americans on Medicare. “With this legislation, we have changed the trajectory of drug pricing policy in the United States,” said P4ADNow founder David Mitchell. “We have finally begun to break the power of multinational drug corporations to dictate prices of brand-name drugs to the American people.” This success was hard won by patients, consumers, seniors, unions, small businesses, employers, physicians, nurses, and disease advocacy and human rights organizations who sent letters, ran ads, videos, press conferences, webinars, and tele-town halls. As patients begin to realize savings from this new law in 2023, we will continue to work to lower drug prices for everyone in the U.S. who needs access to affordable medicines.
2. Patient Advocates: The Backbone Of The Win
- There is no doubt that patient advocates across the country, especially those who shared their personal experiences of the burden of high drug prices, made passage of the Inflation Reduction Act a reality. Patients were front and center in articles, radio and TV interviews, podcasts, op-eds, letters, ads, and much more – explaining how the drug price reforms will change their lives for the better and imploring lawmakers to act. Notably, patients introduced President Biden at the White House and at events on the road, urging passage and celebrating the new drug law and the ways it will benefit patients. “Insulin cost is inhumane,” patient advocate Bob Parant, a Medicare beneficiary who lives with type 1 diabetes, shared ahead of introducing the president (see photo below). “But thanks to President Biden and Democrats in Congress, the reforms in the Inflation Reduction Act will save me, and millions others, hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of dollars a year…The Inflation Reduction Act will allow me to do things I cherish – be able to travel to see my grandkids and also worry less about depleting my retirement savings.” We’re so grateful to our ever-growing community of over 400,000 patients and allies – we could not have done this without you.
3. Election Results: Votes For Lower Drug Prices
- Democrats outperformed expectations in the 2022 midterm election – and a key part of their successful campaigns for Congress was spotlighting the fulfilled promise of lower drug prices from the reforms passed into law in the Inflation Reduction Act. The drug price reforms are very popularwith voters – and backing this popular bill helped usher in wins for frontline candidates like Senators Cortez Masto and Warnock and Reps. Wild, Pappas, Horsford, Craig, and Phillips. Constituents also took notice when members of Congress opposed the bill and worked to do the bidding of Big Pharma. When Senators Lee, Lankford, Lummis, and Rubio introduced the so-called Protect Drug Innovation Act, which aims to reverse the life-changing drug price reforms, patients spoke up anddenounced them. And Democrats who didn’t back the reforms had some serious setbacks as well. Reps. Peters, Schrader, Rice, and Murphy attempted to block and then weakened the drug price provisions in the House. The result? Rep. Schrader lost his primary to a Democrat who called out his pharma-friendly policies and Reps. Rice and Murphy chose not to seek re-election. Rep. Peters, the only one still in Congress, lost his bid to lead the New Democrat Coalition, in part due to his pharma friendly policies. The results of this year’s elections are clear: Americans support lower drug prices and those who stand in the way do so at their own political risk.
4. Big Pharma Continued Hiking Drug Prices In 2022
- In a year when inflation reached historic heights and the pandemic lingered on, Big Pharma kept hiking drug prices to profit at the expense of patients. The industry started off the year by increasing prices on 554 drugs in early January, then hiked the price of 188 more drugs later that month, for a total of 742 hikes. The pharmaceutical industry raised prices again in July, bringing the total number of price hikes for the first seven months of the year to 1,186 — exceeding the number for the same periods of time in 2020 and 2021. P4AD released a report that details how the drug companies behind Eliquis and Xarelto, two blood thinners used by millions of patients, have raised their prices in lockstep over the past decade to avoid competition and extract increasing profits from patients and taxpayers. (And later in the year, Senator Klobuchar and Rep. Porter wrote a letter calling on the FTC and DOJ to investigate the lockstep price hikes on the blood thinners Eliquis and Xarelto and whether they constitute a violation of antitrust laws). Big Pharma also brought new drugs to market at record-setting prices – Amylyx Pharmaceuticals set an annual price of new amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) drug Relyvrio (which lacks evidence it is effective for patients) at $158,000; Provention Bio set the price at nearly $200,000 for a 14 day course of a new treatment that may delay the onset of type 1 diabetes for an average of 2 years; and CSL Behring’s new breakthrough treatment, Hemgenix, for hemophilia is now the most expensive drug in the world with a whopping price tag of $3.5 million per dose. New innovation is worthless for those who can’t pay unjustifiably high prices – drugs don’t work if people can’t afford them!
5. Big Pharma Lost, Despite Spending Record Amounts On Lies
- The drug industry spent record amounts of money to try to stop the Inflation Reduction Act from passing – yet the industry still suffered its biggest loss in decades. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and closely allied groups spent at least $57 million on ads in the year leading up to the law’s passage. On lobbying, PhRMA spent over $29 million and allied industry association BIO spent over $13 million. These lobbyists and ads spread Big Pharma lies to scare patients and lawmakers about the drug price reforms in the Inflation Reduction Act. The Washington Post, KHN, and Kaiser Health News and Politifactdebunked these claims and set the record straight on Medicare negotiation and government spending. In August, P4ADNow sent a letterto Democrats in Congress countering the drug lobby PhRMA’s letter to Capitol Hill that was rife with drug industry lies meant to intimidate members of Congress as they sprinted toward a vote on the legislation. In the end, patients took on Big Pharma power and won. We’ve seen signs of turmoil within the industry ever since – BIO’s CEO resigned soon after the passage of the landmark legislation, one of PhRMA’s top lobbyists left the trade group the same month the new drug price law was passed, and in December, AbbVie left several industry trade groups including PhRMA and BIO. As STAT summarized: “PhRMA, once a titanic lobbying powerhouse, lost its edge.”
One more thing: Here at P4AD, we were thrilled to welcome Merith Basey as our new executive director! Her arrival came at a key moment when sweeping reforms to the U.S. drug price system became law and advocates are turning to other key policies to ensure patients and all of us here in the United States can afford the drugs we need. Check out these videos to get to know her better!
Have a great weekend, everyone!