Welcome to the Week in Review.
1. A New Chapter For Patients On Medicare
- Implementation of the drug price reforms in the Inflation Reduction Act continues as the Biden administration, health care advocacy groups, and elected officials share how the law is delivering long-sought relief to patients. At a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) roundtable, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and health care advocacy groups discussed how they can better educate consumers on the new reforms for patients on Medicare. Becerra emphasized the critical role these groups play in educating patients about the provisions that have already taken effect — capping insulin copays at $35 a month, and, for the first time, making all vaccines free. Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis shared remarks at Protect Our Care’s tour stop about how the reforms make essential medications more affordable: “This is an issue that affects real Pennsylvanians. It’s really important because the insulin and prescriptions are just outrageous right now. So, they need to have a break. I mean, myself alone, when I go for one medication, it’s $400. They cannot afford $400.” Finally, patients are seeing lower drug prices from the historic new law — and we’re eagerly awaiting the relief to continue as the other provisions are implemented in the future. — (HHS, WGAL)
2. Medicare Negotiations Are Crucial For Patients
- The Inflation Reduction Act’s Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Program will allow Medicare to negotiate lower prices on expensive, widely-used medications and undoubtedly bring savings to millions of patients. “It means that, for the first time, there will be an ability to have a little bit of counterweight to the pharmaceutical industry,” Andrea Ducas, Vice President of health policy at the Center For American Progress, told Fortune. When lower negotiated drug prices arrive in 2026 they will be monumental for patients on Medicare including those taking cancer drugs, blood thinners, autoimmune disease treatments, and some diabetes drugs. Last year, Bristol Myers Squibb blood thinner Eliquis, one of the drugs selected for the first round of Medicare negotiations, made “$11.8 billion in revenue…about 25% of the company’s $46 billion in total revenue in 2022.” C. Joseph Ross Daval and Aaron S. Kesselheim, drug price experts at the Program on Regulation, Therapeutics and Law (PORTAL) at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, penned an op-ed in the Washington Post that debunks the claims made in recent lawsuits by pharmaceutical corporations to stop Medicare negotiations. The drug industry is trying to “achieve what it could not through the legislative process — maintaining unreasonably high brand-name drug prices at the expense of the American public.” wrote Daval and Kesselheim. Medicare negotiation will deliver relief to patients who have been forced to pay high drug prices and we won’t back down in our fight to ensure the successful implementation of this historic reform. — (Fortune, Accountable.US, The Washington Post)
3. Big Pharma Puts Profits Over Patients
- While Big Pharma loves to shed crocodile tears about drug price reforms hurting their revenue stream, it turns out that actually — they are doing more than fine. In fact, they are exceeding expectations on profit margins and doubling down on lobbying efforts. This week, Novartis raised its full-year earnings forecast for the third time. Keytruda, Merck’s blockbuster drug, has seen “significant revenue growth” since last quarter, with sales growing 17 percent to $6.3 billion. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) spent over $20 million this year on lobbying, making the trade group one of the top spenders in the industry. It’s clear that Big Pharma executives are busy lining their pockets with piles of cash. All the while, patients are struggling to afford their medications. Nearly 40 percent of working-age adults reported skipping or delaying necessary health care or a prescription drug in the past year due to cost, according to a recent survey by the Commonwealth Fund. It’s time to prioritize the health and financial well-being of patients over profit margins. Lower drug prices for all patients now. — (Reuters, SeekingAlpha, Merck, CQ Roll Call, Commonwealth Fund)
BONUS PHOTO: Check out our long time P4AD patient advocates Sue, Lisa, Judy, and a shout-out to Pamela who met with their respective senators on Capitol Hill to share their experiences with high drug prices and what competition would represent to them! Way to go ladies!
Have a great weekend!