The 20 highest-paid drug industry CEOs each made $20 million or more last year. That’s enough to buy about 28,000 Taylor Swift tickets or 57,000 Beyonce tickets. Drug pricing sure is ready for its Renaissance Era.
Welcome To The Week In Review.
1. PBM Reforms Are In The House
- Bipartisan support is growing in the House for reforms related to the practices of Pharmacy Benefits Managers (PBMs). On Tuesday, the House Oversight Committee continued its investigation into PBMs with a hearing that examined the middlemen’s tactics that drive up costs for patients. Both sides of the aisle participated in lively dialogue. Republican Chairman James Comer’s opening remarks summarized the problem with PBMs’ opaque practices: “PBMs engage in self-benefitting practices that boost their bottom line without a benefit to patients.” Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez skillfully explained how the profit-motivated practices of PBMs (who collect undisclosed rebates) is “focused on who’s making how much money, instead of what people are getting the treatment that they need.” Exactly! We need increased transparency with regard to the practices of PBMs to be sure they are serving patients, not just their bottom line. The House Energy and Commerce Committee held a markup on Wednesday that advanced a package that includes bills to address PBM transparency requirements and accountability. We applaud representatives for shining a light on the middlemen’s practices and advocating for patients! — (Endpoints, House Oversight Committee, P4ADNow, Axios)
2. “A Price That Is Simply Too High”
- Gene therapies – truly groundbreaking treatments that could treat and possibly cure some of the globe’s most challenging conditions – carry outrageous price tags that raise major concerns about how patients and taxpayers will be able to pay for them. FiercePharma compiled a special report this week that lists the top ten most expensive drugs in the U.S. in 2023. Many of the drugs are gene therapies – and the numbers are shocking. Hemgenix, a one-time hemophilia B treatment, ranks as the most expensive drug in the world with a whopping $3.5 million price tag. Luxturna, a rare-disease treatment for vision loss, arrived on the market at $850,000 in 2018 and still continues to be one of the most expensive treatments today. “Our system cannot handle unjustified prices like this, and the new payment models announced today are merely a way to disguise a price that is simply too high,” shared P4AD’s David Mitchell in regards to the price of Luxturna. Krystal Biotech’s Vijuvek is the first approved gene therapy to treat rare skin disease – but it comes with a price tag of $500,000 per year. Who can afford that? New innovation is worthless unless patients can afford it. — (FiercePharma, CBS News)
3. The Inflation Reduction Act: More Relief Is On The Horizon
- While millions of patients are already getting much needed relief from the new drug price law provisions that went into place at the beginning of the year, members of Congress are spreading the word about even more patients who will also see savings from the soon-to-be implemented provisions. At a House Oversight Committee hearing, Rep. Melanie Stansbury explained how Medicare negotiation will deliver much needed savings to her constituents in New Mexico when the provision is implemented in 2026. Stansbury added that this momentum is significant for “our parents, or grandparents, or children, people who are unable to actually access lifesaving care medications, because number one, they cannot afford it.” Rep. Terri Sewell joined Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure at a fireside chat on health care access where they discussed the impact of the new drug price law: “We had a great conversation about the work of Congress and the Biden-Harris Administration to expand health care access and lower prescription drug prices for Alabamians.” It’s clear that the new law will provide relief to patients who have been forced to pay exorbitant drug prices at the mercy of drug companies. (Los Alamos Daily Post, Alabama Today)
BONUS: Advocates are fighting back against high drug prices at the state level as well. In Colorado, patients like Kris Garcia have been pivotal in the passage of Prescription Drug Affordability Boards (PDABs). Read more about the state’s implementation of its new PDAB here!
Happy Memorial Day! Hope everyone enjoys the three-day weekend! ☀️??