Welcome to the Week in Review.
1. Celebrating Reforms: The Out-Of-Pocket Cap And Insulin Copay Cap
- More good news on how the drug price reforms in the Inflation Reduction Act are helping and will continue to help patients. Yesterday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released data showing that nearly 19 million people on Medicare Part D will save, on average, $400 per year when the $2,000 out-of-pocket spending cap takes effect in 2025. At a roundtable earlier this week, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra celebrated the historic drug price legislation and vowed to continue to advocate for strong implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act because “no American should ever have to choose between paying rent or for prescriptions.” Indiana State Rep. Earl Harris Jr. highlighted the benefit of the monthly insulin copay cap in a town hall, stating that “some 81,000 Hoosiers who get their insulin through Medicare will see lower costs due to the act’s $35 monthly cap on the drug.” Congressman Dan Kildee celebrated the recent expansion of the monthly insulin copay cap for people on Medicare Part B that went into effect this month, saying that “No senior should have to pay hundreds of dollars for medicine that costs big pharmaceutical companies just a few dollars to make.” We’re delighted that the drug price reforms deliver long-awaited relief to patients, and glad government officials are spreading the word. — (HHS, Spectrum News 12, Chicago Tribune, WNEM)
2. More Evidence For Increasing Competition
- Momentum is growing to stop drug corporations from abusing patent and regulatory processes to prolong their monopolies on prescription drugs. In an op-ed, Senator Bill Cassidy described how drug corporations take advantage of loopholes and “game the regulatory system to delay competition and preserve their ability to charge higher prices.” His piece pointed to reforms that address tactics to delay competition, such as “ending the abuse of the citizen petition process.” In a recent interview, the Initiative for Medicines, Access, And Knowledge (I-MAK) called out AbbVie for the drug company’s extensive patent thickets for its blockbuster drug Humira as a prime example of abuse of the patent system to protect unfettered pricing power. After years of market exclusivity fueled by patent thickets, Humira finally has competition, with seven biosimilars coming to market at lower prices in the last week. Competition that can lower drug prices is an essential step to restoring fairness to the system. Congress, over to you to pass reforms that close loopholes in our regulatory system so generics and biosimilars can come to market sooner. — (STAT, Life Science Leader, Managed Healthcare Executive, Axios)
3. Arriving At A Fair Price For New Treatments
- New innovative therapies and treatments are arriving to market — the question of how to price them fairly remains. A new study published this week in The BMJ found that less than half of new approved drugs in the U.S. and Europe offer improved clinical value over existing treatments. Authors of the study noted that when new treatments don’t offer added therapeutic value, that information should be “reflected in the price of the drugs.” Spot on! We need a comparative value analysis tool in the United States to arrive at fair prices for prescription drugs — otherwise, patients may be paying more for drugs that offer less clinical benefit. In the case of groundbreaking gene therapies coming to market, patients and taxpayers are facing exorbitantly high prices despite massive public funding in research and development (R&D). Fyodor Urnov, a genetics professor at UC Berkeley, told The Washington Post that his team regularly receives emails from parents of patients with rare genetic disease who “desperately need treatment but can’t afford it.” He continued to comment that “We haven’t really built a system that spreads the public health joy equitably.” Drugs don’t work if people can’t afford them. — (The BMJ, Endpoints, The Washington Post)
Have a great weekend!