Welcome To The Week In Review.
1. Up Next: Drug Price Reforms On The Horizon
- Congress is back in session and reforms to rein in high drug prices are top of mind in both chambers. In the Senate, Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden and Ranking Member Mike Crapo released a bipartisan framework for legislation to target Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) that “unfairly inflate the prices patients and government programs pay for prescription drugs.” The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee plans to hold its markup next week to markup legislation focused on accelerating generic drug entry, closing regulatory loopholes used by big drug companies to block competition, and reforming specific practices of PBMs. Chairman Bernie Sanders also plans to question executives of top insulin makers and PBMs at another hearing on May 10. In the House, the Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing next Wednesday on transparency, competition, and PBM reform. This Congress brings a real opportunity to advance a package of bipartisan bills that will strengthen our patent and regulatory systems, spur competition, address practices of PBMs to ensure they are serving patients and consumers first, and lower drug prices for millions. Let’s do this, Congress. — (Senate Finance Committee, Endpoints, Politico, Politico, Axios, PIRG)
2. The Inflation Reduction Act Keeps Helping Patients
- Patients on Medicare are saving on drug prices thanks to the reforms in the Inflation Reduction Act – and members of Congress continue to spread the word. In an op-ed, Senator Tammy Baldwin reminded her constituents that “we took on the drug industry again and we won.” She explained that “we beat Big Pharma, passing a law to lower drug prices and cap insulin costs at $35 a month for our seniors.” Senator Sherrod Brown agreed that the insulin copay caps are making a huge difference for patients in his community. He shared that Ohioans on Medicare are saving $500 a year from the new provision. “The Inflation Reduction Act finally took on the drug companies and lowered drug prices for Americans on Medicare,” Senator Brown wrote. ? — (The Madison Times, The Ironton Tribune)
3. Big Pharma Myth Busters
- Big Pharma peddled lies this week about Medicare negotiation in the Inflation Reduction Act. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) — who has been crying wolf for decades about the need for high drug prices to cover costs of research and development (R&D) — is shifting tactics now that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is requiring drug companies to justify R&D costs as part of the negotiation process. The reality? “Drug companies know that when we see behind the curtain, the true costs of R&D won’t justify their high prices,” P4AD’s David Mitchell told STAT. CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure explained: “By considering factors such as clinical benefit and unmet medical need, drug price negotiation intends to increase access to innovative treatments for people with Medicare.” According to a new study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), 27 of Medicare’s top-selling drugs — which account for nearly $20 billion in Medicare spending — actually have “little or no therapeutic benefit over therapeutic alternatives”! Thankfully, Medicare’s new negotiation authority ensures the program can examine whether a drug is truly innovative, which will better serve patients. We won’t be fooled by Big Pharma’s big lies — we know the Inflation Reduction Act will rein in prescription drug prices for patients who need this long-awaited relief. — (STAT, Fierce Healthcare, JAMA)
BONUS: Check out patient advocate Kat Schroeder’s interview in Virginia Dogwood, where she shares her personal experience with rationing insulin due to high prices and comments on the power of advocacy to finally see the prices of insulin lowered. Thanks for your wise words, Kat!
Have a great weekend, everyone!