Welcome To The Week In Review.
- The State of Drug Price Reform
- President Biden highlighted the ways the historic drug price reforms in the Inflation Reduction Act are helping and will continue to help people across the United States in his State of the Union (SOTU) address this week. The new law is already providing relief for millions of people on Medicare like David and Marguerite, who both will benefit from the Medicare $35-a-month insulin copay cap provision and were guests of their senators, Tammy Baldwin and Mark Warner respectively, at the address. “As a diabetic and someone living on a fixed income, and as someone who didn’t make a whole lot of money back in the day as a teacher, I’m delighted to be saving close to two thousand dollars a year on my medicines, especially insulin,” said Virginia native Marguerite. Patients will next feel the impact of the reforms in the Inflation Reduction Act on April 1 when many patients who receive drugs at doctors’ offices and hospitals may have prescription coinsurance increases due to drug company price hikes limited to the rate of inflation. This means many patients who once were at the mercy of drug company price increases, may have their cost increases limited, delivering savings and more predictability. To ensure that patients continue seeing relief from the new law, the President strongly vowed to veto any attempts that Big Pharma allies might make to weaken the new law and raise drug prices. Earlier this week, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden made a similar commitment, pledging to stand in the way of any pharma attempts to weaken the Inflation Reduction Act. “Anybody [who] wants to water down the consumer protection provisions that we won after this titanic battle is gonna have to run over me,” he pledged at an event with Protect Our Care this week. President Biden also reminded the nation that the Inflation Reduction Act includes a provision that gives Medicare the power to negotiate lower prices for drugs, which will result in nearly $300 billion in savings through 2031 without slashing any benefits — debunking a liepeddled yet again by Big Pharma allies. The President’s message on Tuesday was clear: Thanks to the historic new drug price law, patients pay less and taxpayers save money. The state of drug pricing in the United States? A whole lot better than last year, but with more fights ahead to lower prices for all. — (NBC News, Endpoints, WisPolitics, Fredericksburg Today, Legacy Newspaper, Endpoints, P4ADNow, Fierce Healthcare, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy)
2. “Six Thousand A Month Would Ruin Us.”
- We are in the midst of what may well be the “golden age of drug discovery” in which many patients for the first time have the hope of new, effective treatments that could treat or even cure their conditions. Currently, however, these miracle medications come with a price tag that pushes them entirely out of reach for far too many people who need them. For doctors and patients alike, this reality is heart wrenching. “The idea that the care you deliver could bankrupt somebody and hurt an entire family is devastating,” shared reconstructive urologist Dr. Benjamin Breyer. For patient Scott Matsuda, who lives with a rare form of chronic leukemia and suffered for years from terrible side effects of his chemotherapy drugs, the innovation of a new pill, Jakafi, was “amazing”. The drug slowed the progression of his disease with no side effects, but it would cost him $6,000 every month. “We are solidly middle-class. We pay all our bills. We have a good credit score. Six thousand a month would ruin us,” Scott said. So for a while he simply went without Jakafi, suffering horrible side effects from chemotherapy drugs and further progression of his disease before he finally was able to find financial assistance through a private foundation. Kentucky patient Sue Lee has had to entirely forgo her Humira, which she says was a wonder drug for treating her painful plaque psoriasis, all because AbbVie has had unfettered pricing power for the last 20 years, allowing the pharmaceutical giant to hike the price again and again. She hopes that biosimilar competitors for Humira coming to market this year might help drive down the price, but she worries the savings will be minimal, keeping the drug out of reach until the $2,000 Medicare out-of-pocket cap provision from the Inflation Reduction Act goes into effect in 2025. The fact remains: Drug corporations won’t stop setting unjustified prices unless we stop them. — (The New York Times, The Journal)
3. Bipartisan Senate Judiciary Votes To Lower Drug Prices
- The Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Dick Durbin and Ranking Member Lindsey Graham, passed out of committee, with bipartisan support, a package of five bills that will promote competition to lower drug prices for patients. The bills crack down on patent abuse, increase coordination between the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to ensure patents are used to reward innovation and not to unfairly block competition, and investigate the practices of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). “Together these bills can help to restore balance to our drug price system and increase competition to lower drug prices for patients,” said P4ADNow executive director Merith Basey about the package. “The bipartisan support early in the 118th Congress demonstrates the public popularity of efforts to lower the cost of prescription drugs,” Politico reported. We agree – these reforms have been long-sought by patient advocates, and it’s time Senate Majority Leader Schumer brings these bills to the Senate floor and that all senators vote to pass them. — (Endpoints, P4ADNow, Politico)
Déjà vu: Yet again, Bristol Myers Squibb/Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson hiked prices of two critical blood thinners in lockstep at the beginning of the year. In January, Eliquis’ price was hiked by 6 percent (from $529 to $560), and Xarelto’s was hiked by 5 percent (from $516 to $542). Check out our report from last year for a reminder of how drug companies use methods like “shadow pricing” — a practice that Senator Amy Klobuchar and Representative Katie Porter requested the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice investigate.
Have a great weekend, everyone!