The drug price reforms in the Inflation Reduction Act are anything but [Abbott] Elementary! In fact, patients [Everything] Everywhere [All At Once] are in a state of Euphoria over how the reforms will help to lower costs for people on Medicare.
Welcome To The Week In Review.
- Inflation Reduction Act Takes Off
- The first of the drug price reforms in the Inflation Reduction Act went into effect on January 1. For people on Medicare Part D, vaccines are now free and insulin copays are capped at $35 a month. For patients, these reforms are life-changing, “The new cost cap will make a big difference. I won’t have to watch what I use. I can buy groceries,” patient advocate and former nurse Justine Miner, who lives with type 2 diabetes, shared with the Wall Street Journal. Patient advocate Jackie Trapp knows firsthand how expensive essential vaccines can be, she paid more than $200 out of pocket for her shingles vaccine, “I’m so relieved that future patients like me won’t have to spend what I did just to protect themselves from diseases like shingles.” The reforms remain popular among the American people, with majorities across the political spectrum supporting the Inflation Reduction Act and, specifically, the insulin copay cap. This week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) outlined their plan for implementing the Medicare drug price negotiation provision in the law. “Today’s announcement is a critical step towards unshackling Medicare and delivering on the promise of drug pricing fairness,” Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden said upon the release of the plan. We couldn’t agree more. — (P4ADNow, P4ADNow, The Wall Street Journal, Navigator Research, Fierce Healthcare, United States Senate Committee On Finance)
2. Perpetual Pandemic Profiteering
- This week Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said the pharmaceutical company is considering quadrupling the price of its COVID mRNA vaccine as it moves to the commercial market. The huge jump in price to a range of $110 to $130 per dose from the current $26 per dose the company charges the U.S government, mirrors the increase Pfizer plans to make on its mRNA vaccine. This is just more pandemic profiteering on the backs of patients causing incoming Senate HELP Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders to pen a letter to Bancel calling the price increases “unacceptable corporate greed” and highlighting that the vaccine was funded by U.S. taxpayers: “You propose to make the vaccine unaffordable for the residents of this country who made the production of the vaccine possible. That is not acceptable.” — (Axios, Office of Senator Bernie Sanders)
3. Humira Hope For Patients
- AbbVie has been gaming the U.S. patent system for years to maintain monopoly pricing power for its blockbuster drug Humira, which treats several debilitating diseases, including psoriatic arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis. The company blocked any biosimilars from coming to market in the U.S. by building up a patent thicket of more than 130 patents, preventing competition and allowing AbbVie to increase the price time and time again to its current astronomical price tag of $81,590 a year. But change is coming — more than half a dozen biosimilar versions of Humira are expected to become available throughout 2023. Patients like Samantha Reid have been waiting for this moment for a long time. “Cost should never be a factor in whether or not people are in pain or suffering or not able to live their lives,” Reid, who has lived with Crohn’s disease since age 18, told the Chicago Tribune. But “it is, and the reason it is, is because companies like AbbVie charge so much for these medications.” P4AD’s David Mitchell added, “AbbVie, and how it has handled Humira, is the poster child for abuse of our patent system.” The next few years “will be a big test of how well can biosimilars perform to lower prices in this country,” Mitchell added. In Europe, where biosimilars for Humira have been on the market since 2018, the drug costs far less. It’s long past time for Humira to get some competition to drive down prices for patients who need this medication. — (Chicago Tribune)
Have a great weekend, everyone!