Welcome to the Week in Review.
1. A Big Win For Medicare Negotiation
- Marking an historic step in ensuring successful implementation of the Medicare negotiation program, a federal judge issued a court ruling yesterday that denied the Chamber of Commerce’s lawsuit to halt the negotiation process. P4ADNow’s David Mitchell celebrated the news following the announcement: “Today’s court ruling is an important victory for patients and all Americans, and demonstrates the weakness of the industry’s objections to Medicare negotiation to lower prescription drug prices under the Inflation Reduction Act.” This ruling comes just before the October 1 deadline for manufacturers of the first 10 eligible drugs selected for negotiation to sign an agreement with Medicare to participate in the process. For patients on Medicare, lower negotiated prices will mean lower out-of-pocket costs and increased use of these expensive drugs. As a reminder, these 10 drugs eligible for negotiation include cancer treatments, blood thinners, autoimmune disease treatments, and diabetes drugs. Considering that prescription drugs cost “2.56 times more” than in other countries, it’s clear why 80 percent of Americans support the new law allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices. Mark, an AARP member from Rhode Island, knows the stress of trying to afford high cost medication all too well: “I am unable to afford the thousands of dollar co-pays for the rheumatoid arthritis drug Enbrel…I had to skip dosages.” With Enbrel on the list of the first 10 drugs to be negotiated, patients like Mark will get a better deal on this high priced medication and worry less about going without. We are eager for the negotiation process to begin in October – it’s time for Medicare, for the first time ever, to have a say in negotiating a fair price for these outrageously priced medications. — (CNBC, KFF, Commonweal, AARP)
2. Time To Stop Big Pharma Patent Abuses
- Amidst a potential government shutdown, elected officials and drug price experts continue to advocate for reforms that address abuses of our patent and regulatory systems and encourage generic and biosimilar competition to be included in the omnibus package. In an interview with Salon, Senator Amy Klobuchar deftly explained the tactics that Big Pharma employs to preserve their monopolies like “pay-for-delay,” “product hopping,” and abuse of the citizen petition process. Thankfully, Senator Klobuchar is leading bipartisan legislation to curb these patent and regulatory abuses and encourage generic competition coming to market. Professor Sean Tu explained to STAT that years of patent abuses by Big Pharma has led to outrageous profit margins: “Humira made $21 billion last year. From what I understand, that is as much as McDonald’s.” Tu continued, “the fact that the moment a patent expires competition leads to dramatic price drops is a quintessential case of markets regulating themselves … and they shouldn’t be allowed to exploit loopholes to extend monopolies.” Drug companies game our patent and regulatory systems so they can pad their pockets with profit by setting outrageous prices. We need to pass bipartisan reforms to fix this injustice and lower drug prices for patients. — (Salon, The Blaze, STAT)
3. Sickle Cell Awareness & The Looming Question Of High Launch Prices
- We’re on the cusp of remarkable, potentially curative cell and gene therapies coming to market, but the high price tags attached to these promising treatments draws concerns about how patients and the health care system will afford them. Treatments for sickle cell disease are on the horizon and patients are eager to access this new groundbreaking treatment. Approximately 100,000 people in the U.S. live with sickle cell disease, of which Black and Hispanic populations are disproportionately impacted. The two current gene therapies under FDA review are expected to be priced between $2 and $3 million dollars. The opportunity for patients who’ve faced a “lifetime of restricted activity and pain” to finally live a healthier lifestyle will be pushed further out-of-reach given this staggering price. We need to bring reforms to our system that address high-priced gene and cell therapies so that everyone can afford life-saving drugs. (CMS, Managed Healthcare Executive)
BONUS WATCH: Check out P4AD’s Bilingual Organizer & Program Assistant Jesse Aguirre celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month in this new video! Worth a watch.
Have a great weekend!