Quick note to readers: This was Audrey’s last week (in review) at P4AD! She’s been honored to be in your inbox for the last couple years. We’ll be excited to announce P4AD’s incoming communications and media director very soon and we’ll see you here next week as usual.
Welcome to the Week in Review.
1. Enrolling In Medicare? The Inflation Reduction Act Will Bring Savings
- The annual open enrollment period for people on Medicare kicked off this week – this time with added drug price savings built into the Inflation Reduction Act. Beginning in 2024, drug price reforms like the cap on out-of-pocket costs for patients on Medicare who fall into the “catastrophic” coverage tier are “going to help people who have very expensive medications for conditions like cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and hepatitis,” said KFF’s Tricia Neuman. The cap will begin to phase in next year when people on Medicare will pay zero after they reach the catastrophic phase of Medicare Part D which should be at about $3,250-3,500 in spending. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse touted the provisions in the historic law and explained that the reforms are “lowering health care costs for seniors, and finally breaking the grip of Big Pharma, providing much-needed relief to Rhode Islanders on Medicare.” In a letter-to-the-editor, Diane J. Young cited Medicare negotiation as an important way to push back on the rising costs of prescription drugs in the U.S. For Bob in Nevada, lower drug prices through Medicare negotiation will save him money on his blood thinner medication, Xarelto — one of the most expensive medicines in Medicare Part D. Further in the coming years, patients living with cancer are going to see significantly lowered costs for their treatments because of Medicare negotiations and the $2,000 cap on out-of-pocket costs, explained Joshua Cohen in a column for Forbes. The savings will just keep coming – we’re excited for patients across the country to enroll in Medicare and feel the relief in their pocketbooks from the Inflation Reduction Act. — (KFF, The Newport Buzz, The Washington Post, Nevada Current, Forbes)
2. Patients Depend On Patent & Regulatory Reforms
- While Congress is sorting out its end-of-year package bill (as well as the Speaker of the House), elected officials and drug price experts are pushing for passage of bipartisan bills to curb patent and regulatory abuses and increase competition to lower drug prices. Former Texas Rep. Joe Barton penned an op-ed that breaks down the tactics that Big Pharma employs to keep drug prices high, like “pay-for-delay” in which drug companies pay off generic makers to delay their drugs from coming to market. Earlier this month, the Mayo Clinic and LifePoint Health filed a lawsuit against Celgene over its multiple myeloma drug Revlimid — alleging that the drug company engaged in pay-for-delay deals to stall the sale of generic versions of the drug. “Whether the current legal landscape for pharmaceutical patents is good policy is a hotly debated topic,” wroteUPenn fellow Laura Delbow in an opinion piece. “Yet one thing is certain: Patents are a key reason why drug prices are so high.” We couldn’t agree more. Thankfully, there are bipartisan policies to rein in Big Pharma’s manipulation of our patent and regulatory systems. Senators, time to advance these bills. — (Irving Weekly, Fierce Healthcare, The Regulatory Review, Des Moines Register)
3. Addressing Launch Prices Of Gene Therapies
- Revolutionary cell and gene therapies will transform the lives of patients and offer potentially curative benefits. But these therapies are coming to market at outrageously high launch prices that put profit over the needs of patients and our health care system. P4AD’s David Mitchell told Bloomberg that these treatments will be “miraculous,” but a pressing question looms for patients about how to reach a fair price. Patients like David may one day turn to second line treatments like gene therapy to treat their conditions and will depend on the price being within reach. We need to address the high launch prices that Big Pharma charges patients and taxpayers. Drugs don’t work if people can’t afford them. — (Bloomberg)
PRICE GOUGING ALERT: This week we learned Pfizer plans to set the U.S. price for its COVID-19 antiviral treatment Paxlovid at nearly $1,400. That’s more than double what the government currently pays and far more than what it costs to make. Outrageous.
Have a great weekend!