Welcome to the Week in Review.
1. A Big Win For Medicare Negotiation
- It’s official — Medicare has started negotiations with all the makers of the first 10 drugs selected. P4ADNow’s Merith Basey celebrated this important step inthe movement towards lowering prices for the millions of patients who take these essential and costly medications including cancer treatments, blood thinners, autoimmune disease treatments, and some diabetes drugs. According to the White House, “the 10 drugs selected for negotiation accounted for $3.4 billion in out-of-pocket costs for an estimated 9 million Medicare enrollees in 2022.” Lower negotiated drug prices will bring savings to millions of patients on Medicare when the negotiation program takes effect in 2026. It comes as no surprise that voters across party lines support implementation of the Medicare negotiation program and overwhelmingly — by more than a five-to-one margin — oppose the lawsuits trying to halt the negotiation process. We’ll keep fighting for successful implementation of Medicare negotiations to ensure patients and taxpayers get a better deal on these widely-used, high cost medications. — (P4ADNow, CMS, The New York Times, The White House, Times-News, Forbes)
2. Push For Competition To Lower Drug Prices
- Patients have been financially burdened by expensive prescription drugs for far too long and urgently need generic and biosimilar competition to enter the market to lower prices. Compared to peer nations, the U.S. spends more than twice as much on prescription drugs per person, according to a recent study by the Commonwealth Fund. The authors of the study found that prescription drug prices are two to three times those in other nations, with branded drugs accounting for 80 percent of prescription drug spending. These essential medications are priced out of reach for patients, who are forced to risk putting their health in jeopardy by not taking their drugs as prescribed. A CDC report in 2021 estimated that of the “60% of adult Americans who took at least one prescription drug in the past year, 9.2 million (8%) did not take their medications as prescribed to save money.” This is not acceptable. A solution? Generics and biosimilars can drive down prices. A recent Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report found that biosimilars have significantly lowered costs for patients on Medicare and assessed that they can be used more widely to increase savings. Thankfully, there is a real opportunity in Congress to pass bipartisan legislation that increases generic and biosimilar competition to lower drug prices for patients. Let’s get it done. — (Medical Economics, Commonwealth Fund, Public Citizen, CDC, HHS, Politico)
3. Patients Need Affordable Vaccines
- Everyone deserves access to live-saving vaccines. Yet, even when research leading to the development of vaccines is primarily taxpayer funded, Big Pharma often swoops in once they are considered profitable, and is able to dictate their price. This week, two pioneering scientists — Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman — whose decades-long research in mRNA technology lead to the development of the COVID-19 vaccines, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. P4AD’s David Mitchell applauded the scientists, and highlighted that the taxpayer grants funded their pivotal research and saved millions of lives: “The foundational work by Karikó, Weissman with the support of [the National Institutes of Health] NIH enabled the mRNA technology to be ready for development in record time when COVID-19 attacked the world in 2020.” In 2022, drug companies planned to raise the price of their COVID-19 vaccine more than six times what the U.S. government initially paid. Classic Big Pharma putting profits before patients. In a powerful essay published by ProPublica, Anna Maria Barry-Jester detailed how drug company GSK delayed rollout of its tuberculosis (TB) vaccine, developed with government and non-profit funding, to pursue more lucrative business opportunties. Profiteering from pandemics and deadly disease is abominable. The U.S. government and taxpayers deserve better, especially after footing the bill for key research that has helped and improved countless lives. — (The New York Times, ProPublica)
Have a great weekend!