Welcome to the Week in Review.
1. Fighting Against Lawsuits To Stop Negotiations
On Wednesday, January 31st, oral arguments will be heard in AstraZeneca’s legal challenge against Medicare’s ability to negotiate the price of the company’s diabetes and heart failure drug, Farxiga. Amidst this legal battle, Patients For Affordable Drugs Now (P4ADNow) has thus far signed onto seven amicus briefs led by Public Citizen and supported by AARP, Protect Our Care, Doctors for America, and Families USA to support the government’s opposition and explain the harm high drug prices have on people on Medicare. Meanwhile, by February 1st, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are set to dispatch initial offers to the manufacturers of the first 10 drugs selected for negotiation. Drugmakers will then have 30 days to agree on the maximum fair price or provide a counteroffer. This next step marks a historic stride towards lower negotiated prices for millions of people on Medicare in 2026 and increased access to medications at prices they can afford. — (O’Neill Institute, Public Citizen, ALM BenefitsPro)
2. Big Pharma Greed: Wheeling and Dealing
New figures show that drug corporations are pulling in record profits and have been cashing out on billion-dollar biotech deals. Johnson & Johnson, manufacturer of three of the drugs selected for Medicare negotiation, announced $4.8 billion in Q4 earnings which is nearly double their earnings from the previous year, according to Accountable.US. Sanofi, one of the big three insulin makers that monopolize the industry, announced a multi-billion dollar acquisition of a biotech company, making it the sixth drugmaker buyout valued at $50 million or more this year. Despite all the huffing and puffing from drug industry CEOs about recent drug price reforms slowing down investment, Big Pharma is making huge returns on drug sales and new drug development is doing just fine! In fact, a report published by S&P Global Ratings projects that the global pharmaceutical industry will have “healthy revenue growth through 2027.” It’s clear that drug corporations put profit over the well-being of patients and we’ll continue to expose their shady behavior until everyone can access medications at prices they can afford. — (Accountable.US, Biopharma Dive, S&P Global)
3. Push For Competition
Big drug companies exploit our patent and regulatory systems to extend their monopolies and keep prices high, at the expense of patients. Big Pharma wields anti-competitive tactics like patent thickets and pay-for-delay deals to extend their timed monopolies and block competition from the market. Right now, there is a critical window of opportunity to pass legislation to curb these patent abuses and bolster competition to lower drug prices for all patients. These competition bills have critical bipartisan support from influential legislators: “Some of the most liberal Democrats in Congress and the House GOP’s lead budget writer are backing a plan to keep drugmakers from gaming the patent system,” wrote Axios reporter Peter Sullivan. Patients urgently need legislators to pass these reforms to curb anti-competitive practices and strengthen market forces to drive down steadily increasing drug prices. — (Chicago Tribune, Reuters, Endpoints, Axios)