Happy Veterans Day to our nation’s heroes and their families.
In the spirit of the Medicare negotiation listening sessions, a reminder that the Department of Veteran Affairs has been negotiating drug prices since 1993.
Welcome to the Week in Review.
1. CMS Listening Sessions Continue
- This was the second week of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) virtual listening sessions where patients taking the first 10 drugs eligible for Medicare negotiations shared their experiences with high drug prices and what this relief will mean to them. And once again, we witnessed the reiteration of pharmaceutical industry talking points that do not align with the best interests of patients. Standing up to Pharma, P4AD patient advocate Lynn Scarfuto applauded the inclusion of her costly cancer treatment, Imbruvica — which carries a monthly list price of $17,000 — on the list of negotiated drugs. P4AD patient advocate Steven Hadfield, 71, (who introduced the President when the first 10 drugs selected for negotiation was announced) shared the relief he felt when his diabetes medication, Januvia, was announced as one of the first drugs that Medicare will negotiate a lower price for. “Lower drug prices will firmly allow me to rest more often and hopefully allow me to transition from working full time to working part time,” said Steven during the Januvia listening session. Bob Parant, who shared his story with CMS last week, was featured on the White House’s Facebook page, highlighting the power of patient advocacy. We are eager to see the negotiation process continue, and long-awaited relief delivered to patients, like Lynn, Bob, and Steven, who have been forced to pay unreasonably high drug prices. Millions of patients on Medicare will see significant savings when lower negotiated drug prices take effect in 2026. (P4ADNOW, Protect Our Care)
2. Momentum To Curb Patent Abuses
- It’s no secret that big drug companies game the patent system to preserve their monopoly pricing power, delay generic competition from coming to market, and push medications out of reach for far too many patients. This week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) doubled down on its promise to address patent abuses and challenged more than 100 patents held by the makers of asthma inhalers, epinephrine autoinjectors, and other essential medications. “We’re taking this action because I think, as we all know, there is a crisis in our country when it comes to health care costs,” FTC Chair Lina Khan told NPR. “And all too often, people are not able to afford the medicines they need, the life-saving drugs that they need.” In an interview with Current Affairs, Nick Dearden, global director of Global Justice Now and author of Pharmanomics, detailed how drug companies game the patent system to extend market exclusivity, such as “evergreening” where drug companies make small, insignificant changes to a drug just to earn more patents. As a result, lower-cost generics are prevented from hitting the market and delivering relief to patients who depend on these life-saving medications. We must continue to crack down on Big Pharma’s deceitful maneuvers and pass laws to fix our patent system and close regulatory loopholes. — (NPR, Current Affairs)
BONUS: For our bilingual readers – shout out to our very own Jesse Aguirre for his op ed published in El Planeta yesterday in Spanish on how Patient stories have the potential to overturn the status quo of Big Pharma. Bravo!
Have a great weekend!