Patients’ lucky charm this year? The drug price reforms in the Inflation Reduction Act. Less gold in Big Pharma’s coffers and more in the pockets of the people. 🍀🌈
Welcome To The Week In Review.
- Savings On The Way Thanks To The Inflation Reduction Act
- The Inflation Reduction Act’s soon to be implemented provisions — such as the inflationary rebates, the $2,000 out-of-pocket cap, and Medicare negotiation — will bring much needed savings to people on Medicare. Patient advocate Ginny Boynton met with President Biden in Philadelphia last week and shared how the Inflation Reduction Act will lower her drug costs. Ginny lives with Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome and her out-of-pocket costs will total close to $36,000 this year. But thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, starting in 2025, Ginny and millions of people on Medicare will have their out-of-pocket costs capped at $2,000. Ahead of Biden’s speech announcing his 2024 budget, Ginny told the president: “I’m on Medicare, so the Inflation Reduction Act is critical to me … I have a drug that costs $600,000 a year … and I can’t turn over in bed without it.” This week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued guidance on the historic Medicare negotiation program that will begin with ten costly drugs in 2026. HHS also announced 27 prescription drugs had price hikes above the rate of inflation in the last quarter of 2022. People on Medicare who take these medications through Part B “could save between $2 and $390 per average dose for these drugs starting April 1,” reported CNBC. It’s clear that the Inflation Reduction Act will deliver savings to millions of patients like Ginny who’ve had to face high drug prices for far too long. — (P4ADNow, CNN, HHS, Reuters, HHS, CNBC)
2. 👏 Two More Insulin Manufacturers Bend To The Pressure of Advocates 👏
- In another win for patients and advocates, this week, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi announced plans to cut prices on some insulin products starting January of 2024. This news comes on the tail of Eli Lilly’s insulin price cuts earlier this month, and the Inflation Reduction Act’s monthly $35 insulin copay caps for people on Medicare that started in January (and which could bring savings to more than 600,000 people on Medicare). Stacie Dusetzina, health policy professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, remarked that the drug companies “have little to lose by making this change” — for patients, on the other hand, lowering insulin prices could mean life or death. Diabetes disproportionately affects African American women, who are 80 percent more likely to be diagnosed with the condition and are more at risk of developing diabetes at an older age when their income decreases. “We need affordable insulin now. Too many lives depend on it,” wrote Linda Goler Blount, president and CEO of the Black Women’s Health Imperative. We couldn’t agree more — patient advocates have fought hard for years to bring lower insulin prices. As a result, all three drugmakers — who together make up roughly 90 percent of the U.S. insulin market — finally buckled to public pressure. This overdue step will bring relief to many patients. All people deserve access to their medicines. — (P4AD, P4AD, AARP, NBC News, The Afro, Common Dreams, NBC News)
3. Patients Can’t Afford Prescriptions — And PBMs Aren’t Helping
Over one third of Americans say that cost has prevented them from filling a prescription they need, according to a survey published this week. Results showed a sharp discrepancy between men and women, with 43 percent of women saying they have skipped filling their prescriptions due to cost compared to 30 percent of men. One of the reasons patients face such high costs? Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs). PBMs are supposed to negotiate lower drug prices on behalf of patients, but right now it appears that the middlemen pocket their undisclosed rebates from drug manufacturers as profit and leave patients suffering. “PBMs are largely unregulated – and no one really knows what kind of savings are being negotiated on patients’ behalf,” wrote Beverly Goodell, executive director of the Lupus Foundation of New England. We are glad Congressis taking on the issue, and we will keep fighting for PBM reform — along with other drug price reforms — until cost is no longer a barrier to accessing medications patients need. — (The Hill, Portland Tribune, Commonwealth Magazine, Citrus County Chronicle)
Have a great weekend, everyone!