July is a big month for people who love pumps: The live-action comedy film Barbie comes out AND the Inflation Reduction Act’s $35 monthly insulin copay cap will extend to people on Medicare who use pumps!
Welcome To The Week In Review.
1. Momentum For Bipartisan Drug Price Reforms
- Congress may have been in recess this week, but bipartisan momentum continued to grow with regard to looking into the practices of Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) and reforming our rigged patent system. Politico reported that on April 19th, the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee will mark-up a yet to be seen bipartisan drug price bill that is related to PBMs and generic drugs. Further, Axiosreported that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer holds prescription drug reform as a top priority and plans to bring a health care package to the Senate floor that could include the five bipartisan bills from the Senate Judiciary Committee that address key fixes to our rigged patent system and reforms to the practices of PBMs. Following the Senate Finance Committee PBM hearing last week, Raymond, a patient in Washington, wrote an opinion piece urging legislators to continue bipartisan collaboration on reforming the PBM industry: “As a patient adversely impacted by benefit managers, I can confidently say that these reforms must remain a federal priority for the 118th Congress.” Tahir Amin, co-founder of the Initiative for Medicines, Access, and Knowledge (I-MAK) shared how patent reform is essential in the fight to lower drug prices on the Public Health On Call Podcast: “I think the first step we have to do is get the agencies like the FDA and USPTO to get on board and change some of the rules that allow companies to build these thickets of patents — and I think that’s happening at the moment.” We’re looking forward to working with lawmakers across the aisle on these reforms as they come back from recess next week! — (Politico, Axios, The Daily Herald, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health)
2. “How Long Can We Go Through Our Savings To Pay For A Drug?”
- Patients continuously face high drug prices that push the medicines they need out of reach. Kentucky patient Sue Lee wrote a letter about the blockbuster drug Humira, which she took to treat painful sores caused by her chronic plaque psoriasis. Once on Medicare, the drug cost her $4,000 out of pocket monthly and she was forced to stop taking Humira completely. Florida patient Sydney, 18, lives with Crohn’s disease and was also forced to stop taking Humira, which improved her health significantly, because of its high cost. Sydney’s mother, Holly, explained the hardship of paying for the expensive drug to the Washington Post: “How long can we go through our savings to pay for [a drug]?” Trudy, a respiratory therapist in Washington, told the Post how she witnessed seniors with chronic lung disease forgo their medications and inhalers for years because of high drug prices set by Big Pharma. In addition, patients who rely on EpiPens shared that they are currently paying in excess of $600 a year, an increase from the original $100 per year, for the life-saving drug. We clearly need meaningful policy solutions to fix our rigged system. Drug corporations won’t stop padding their bottom line — with no regard for patients’ health and financial security — unless we stop them. — (Lexington Herald-Leader, The Washington Post, Vox)
3. Popular Provisions In The Inflation Reduction Act
- There’s no denying the popularity of the drug price provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act. A new survey reports that 83 percent of people over the age of 65 support the president’s budget proposal to expand on drug price reforms in the Inflation Reduction Act including Medicare negotiation. Lawmakers have been singing a similar tune about the savings in the new drug price law. Senator Jacky Rosen proudly reminded the Nevada Legislature about the success of the Inflation Reduction Act: “After years, years of obstruction, Medicare can finally negotiate lower drug costs for our seniors.” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin shared that 50,000 people in Illinois will see savings due to the $35 monthly insulin copay caps. Rep. Jared Golden wrote in an op-ed that the Inflation Reduction Act will “lower prescription drug prices for the more than 262,000 older Mainers enrolled in Medicare Part D,” and that, contrary to Big Pharma’s lies, “using the purchasing power of the government to negotiate lower drug prices for seniors is the right thing to do.” Senator Peter Welch also debunked Big Pharma myths about the new law: “All of the fear mongering — that it was going to ruin innovation — has been proven to be false. Keep in mind, these high drug prices are brutal whether you voted for Trump or you voted for Biden. All of us are hearing about that from our constituents.” Well said! Regardless of political background, patients know the Inflation Reduction Act will bring drug prices down while maintaining innovation we need. — (Morning Consult, Framingham Source, WFLA, KUNR, Fox Illinois, Bangor Daily News, Roll Call)
Have a great weekend, everyone!