Thank you to the mother of the disability rights movement, Judy Heumann, for a lifetime of relentless activism. May we all “make a fuss” in her memory.
Welcome To The Week In Review.
- Biden’s Budget: A Vision To Expand Drug Price Reforms
- President Biden’s newly released 2024 budget seeks to build upon the new drug price reforms in the Inflation Reduction Act. In an effort to lower drug prices for patients and save the government money, the plan proposes expanding the number of drugs Medicare can negotiate and would make drugs eligible for negotiation even sooner after approval. It would also extend the inflationary rebates to the private sector to limit drug price increases to the rate of inflation for people on private insurance and extend the monthly $35 out-of-pocket cap for people on insulin who have commercial insurance. The Inflation Reduction Act “will save Medicare hundreds of billions over the decades to come,” and will save “seniors up to thousands of dollars a year,” President Biden explained in an op-ed. “Lowering drug prices while extending Medicare’s solvency sure makes a lot more sense than cutting benefits.” The Inflation Reduction Act is already providing savings to patients like Roy, Robin, and Jennifer whose insulin copays are now capped at $35 a month. And thanks to the law’s $2,000 out-of-pocket cap, starting in 2025, people on Medicare living with cardiovascular disease could save a median of $855 per year. President Biden’s vision to expand reforms to lower drug prices responds to the needs of millions of people in the U.S. from across the political spectrum struggling to make ends meet due to high drug prices. Thank you, Mr. President. — (CNN, The New York Times, HHS, HHS, The Detroit News, AARP, Healio)
2. Preserving Value Analysis For Patients
- This week, P4ADNow urged members of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health to vote against H.R. 485, the Protecting Health Care for All Patients Act of 2023, in its current form. The original bill, which aimed to ban the use of quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), a metric of value analysis we do not support, instead contained overly-broad language that could jeopardize the use of value analysis as a tool in determining a fair price for a drug. “As a patient with an incurable cancer whose drugs carry a combined list price of more than $900,000 per year, I know firsthand the importance of a drug price system that fairly prices drugs based on their value to patients,” said P4ADNow’s David Mitchell. In addition to undermining the government’s authority to rein in unjustified prices on ineffective drugs, the bill as originally written could jeopardize the hard-won drug price reforms in the Inflation Reduction Act, which are already lowering costs for patients. The subcommittee advanced an amended version of the bill Wednesday and Ranking Member Frank Pallone said he will continue to work with Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers to ensure the legislation does not harm the implementation of the drug price reforms in the Inflation Reduction Act. We urge members of the full committee to oppose H.R. 485 until it preserves critical value analysis tools to analyze and incorporate value into drug pricing. — (P4ADNow, Politico, House Committee on Energy & Commerce Democrats)
3. Patients Still Need Reforms
- While the Inflation Reduction Act includes historic drug price reforms to lower costs for people on Medicare, there are still plenty of changes to our system to fight for in order to deliver lower drug prices for all patients. First, while the new law caps insulin copays at $35 a month for people on Medicare, we still need to ensure that everyone can afford insulin. Addressing insulin prices is an issue of equity, as Black patients are disproportionately affected by diabetes and are more likely to struggle affording insulin. Second, we must fix our rigged patent system so that patients can afford the medications they need. “What we’ve been seeing lately is that companies are filing for dozens or even hundreds of patents to extend their monopoly period in order to keep their revenues, and that’s blocking competition from the market,” Priti Krishtel, co-founder of the Initiative for Medicines, Access, and Knowledge (I-MAK), told the Hill. Two physicians penned an op-ed this week sharing the direct impact patent abuse has on patients and calling for reforms “to ensure the U.S. patent system enables, rather than restricts, the development of truly effective and affordable medications.” They continued: “When patients must choose between their physical and financial well-being, harm is unavoidable.” Third, we need to find a way to address fair launch prices for new drugs coming to market. Big Pharma will keep releasing new drugs for more than $20,000 a month and continue to hike prices on older drugs on the market, unless we reform the system to stop the industry. We will keep fighting to stop the insulin cartel, restore the patent system to its original intent, and fix the system to address high launch prices. — (NBC News, The Hill, The Baltimore Sun, The Wall Street Journal)
Bonus: AbbVie CEO Rick Gonzalez’s 2022 pay package was a staggering $26.3 million, undoubtedly boosted by patients who paid for the company’s high-priced drugs like Humira. Another case of Big Pharma executives making huge profits at the expense of patients.
Have a great weekend, everyone!