Latest News | Mar 16, 2022
STATEMENT: Senate Finance Hearing Again Overwhelmingly Proves The Urgent Need To Lower Rx Prices￼
Big Pharma’s Lies And Scare Tactics Repeatedly Exposed
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The following statement was issued by David Mitchell, a cancer patient and founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now, following the Senate Committee on Finance’s hearing “Prescription Drug Price Inflation: An Urgent Need to Lower Drug Prices in Medicare”:
“Thank you to Chairman Ron Wyden and the Senate Finance Committee for holding today’s hearing on the outrageous prices of prescription drugs in this country. Senators and witnesses alike made the compelling case for passage of the comprehensive drug price reforms now before the Senate. The hearing demonstrated the urgent and overwhelming imperative that Congress pass the reforms, including Medicare negotiation, this year. Without action, we are effectively mandating that Americans continue to pay almost four times what patients in other countries pay for the same brand-name drugs.
“The hearing again highlighted the lengths that Big Pharma will go to spread misinformation and scare patients in order to protect the industry’s unilateral power to dictate prices in this country. Despite record spending on lobbying and dark money campaigns by drug companies who are trying to block the drug pricing reforms, patients know the provisions will allow for the innovation we need at prices we can afford, increase access to drugs, and save lives. Americans are depending on Congress to get it done.”
- During the hearing, senators advocated strongly for passing the comprehensive reforms already passed by the House of Representatives.
- Chairman Ron Wyden reiterated: “There is just no substitute — none — for the number one reform, which is allowing Medicare to negotiate like any other payer. Without negotiation, the job is just not done. For example, setting out-of-pocket caps without negotiation just passes the price on to somebody else, and that’s usually taxpayers. That’s not sustainable and just puts more pressure on Medicare’s finances in the long run.”
- Senator Catherine Cortez Masto said, “It just astounds me that there’s so much fear-mongering going on around here. So really, when I hear ‘government price controls,’ what I’m hearing is that pharmaceutical companies are afraid for the free market to take place and negotiation to take place to lower these costs. ”
- Senator Tom Carper explained: “I see a clear path forward to deliver drug pricing reform for the American people in a way that is balanced and in a way that is fair, and I’m confident that these policies can pass through Congress and be signed into law even today, even today. We can cap the price Americans pay, for example, for insulin at $35 per prescription, we can establish the first-ever out-of-pocket cap for seniors in Medicare Part D, we can institute a price inflation penalty where drug companies would pay a penalty to Medicare for raising prices faster than inflation, and we can allow Medicare to negotiate the lower drug prices.”
- Opponents of the drug pricing reforms under consideration by the Senate repeated pharma’s lies that Medicare negotiation would stifle innovation and reduce patient access to medications. Here’s why these claims are just not true.
- The prescription drug pricing reforms in the House-passed Build Back Better Act would:
- Empower Medicare to negotiate lower prices for the most expensive prescription drugs, including insulin.
- Cap annual out-pocket-costs for Medicare beneficiaries at $2,000 in Part D.
- Implement a copay cap of $35 a month on insulin products for people on commercial or government insurance plans.
- Penalize drug companies for price increases that outpace the rate of inflation.
- President Biden has repeatedly stated his commitment to deliver lower drug prices for Americans. In his State of the Union address this month, the president called on Congress to lower the prices of prescription drugs and allow Medicare to negotiate.
- The drug pricing reforms in the Build Back Better Act have been endorsed by the entire Democratic caucus. Key members continue to emphasize that lowering drug prices will address high and rising costs and are encouraging the caucus to move forward with the comprehensive drug price provisions, including Medicare negotiation.
- Allowing Medicare to negotiate is widely supported by Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike.
- 8 in 10 Americans agree that Medicare should have the power to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices.
- Polls have repeatedly shown that voters believe Medicare negotiation is the top priority in the president’s Build Back Better plan.
- 9 in 10 voters consider drug prices an important issue leading up to the midterm elections. 3 in 4 voters say that a failure to pass drug pricing reforms will impact their vote.
Big Pharma And Its Allies Will Spread Lies To Oppose Reforms — Here’s What To Look Out For
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Senate Committee on Finance will hold a hearing tomorrow at 10:00 AM ET on the need to pass comprehensive drug pricing reforms, including Medicare negotiation. The hearing, “Prescription Drug Price Inflation: An Urgent Need to Lower Drug Prices in Medicare,” takes place as the Senate considers the drug pricing reforms already passed by the House of Representatives. Opponents of these reforms are expected to shepherd Big Pharma’s talking points with false claims about innovation, access, and Big Pharma’s investment in COVID-19 vaccines. Here’s a roundup of what to look out for, how these reforms will help patients, and the momentum to get it done:
Big Pharma Fear-Mongering
- Innovation Lies: Big Pharma claims that Medicare negotiation will stifle innovation, lead to fewer drugs coming to market, and devastate pharma revenue, jeopardizing jobs and R&D investment.
- The Truth: The impact on innovation under the BBB provisions would be negligible to non-existent. The CBO score of the BBB provisions found that Americans would forgo just 10 out of 1,300 drugs over the next 30 years — and there’s no indication that any of the drugs lost would be innovative cures, as only 1 in 8 new drugs generates a new therapeutic benefit. The pharmaceutical industry is in no danger of being in financial jeopardy. Large, brand-name drug corporations could lose $1 trillion in sales over a decade and still be the most profitable industry in the United States.
- Access Lies: Big Pharma claims that reforms would reduce access to life-saving drugs and put Washington bureaucrats in between patients and their medications.
- The Truth: The biggest barrier to patient access is high prices. Right now, 1 in 3 adults do not take their medication as prescribed due to cost, and it is the most common reason given for not filling a prescription. The drug price reforms being considered by the Senate will increase access to drugs and save lives by reducing prices. Right now, pharma CEOs are the ones standing in between patients and their drugs because they are responsible for the high prices that keep medications out of reach.
- COVID-19 Lies: Big Pharma claims that reforms would devastate the profits of an industry that just saved us from COVID-19.
- The Truth: Taxpayers laid the scientific foundation for our most effective COVID-19 vaccines. Drug companies only got involved after the promise of a handsome, risk-free profit. Since the beginning of the pandemic, over $18 billion in public funds has been invested into vaccine candidates, mitigating the financial risk and accelerating development. Pfizer and Moderna are expected to rake in $51 billion from their COVID-19 vaccines in 2022 following record-breaking revenue from Pfizer’s vaccine in 2021. COVID-19 vaccine sales have created nine new billionaires.
How Drug Pricing Reforms Will Help Patients
The drug price provisions under consideration will, for the first time, authorize Medicare to negotiate prices directly for some of the most expensive prescription medicines; institute a hard cap on out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries and limit copays on insulin for millions of Americans to $35 each month; and limit annual price increases to stop price gouging by drug corporations.
If the drug pricing crisis goes unaddressed, millions of patients will be denied access to prescriptions they need to survive, and the drug industry will be left with unilateral power to dictate prices for brand-name drugs — something no other nation in the world allows. Without action, we are effectively mandating that American patients continue to pay almost four times what patients in other countries pay for the same brand-name drugs. Acting on reforms is a health equity imperative — non-white patients are disproportionately harmed by rising drug prices.
Momentum To Get It Done
The momentum is here – in his State of the Union address, President Biden called for lowering drug prices as a key part of his plan to lower costs for Americans, and Senator Manchin followed the president’s call by saying he is ready to come to the table and pass drug pricing reforms in a reconciliation bill. The full Democratic caucus has endorsed the deal to lower drug prices. Key members continue to emphasize that lowering drug prices will address high and rising costs and are encouraging the caucus to move forward with the comprehensive drug price provisions, including Medicare negotiation.
Rising prices are understandably a top concern for American families. Addressing drug prices will put more money back in the pockets of patients and their loved ones by helping curb inflation. Additionally, lowering drug prices is a top midterm issue for more than 90 percent of voters. If Congress fails to pass reforms, 3 out of 4 voters say it will impact their vote in November.
The Senate Finance Committee hearing on drug pricing will include witnesses Rena M. Conti, Ph.D., Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Ph.D., Stephen Ezell, and Steffany Stern, M.P.P. Watch tomorrow at 10:00 AM ET here.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Executives from seven major drug corporations will testify before the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday to explain their pricing practices and the fact that American patients and taxpayers pay more for drugs than anywhere in the world. In the lead up to the hearing, Patients For Affordable Drugs Now reviewed the pricing history of each corporation and developed questions patients want answered from the Pharma CEOs.
“We hear every day from patients suffering under the high cost of prescription drugs,” said David Mitchell, a cancer patient and the founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now. “Patients deserve answers, and we need Congressional action to stop this abuse of American patients from continuing.”
U.S. patients and taxpayers spend more than $450 billion each year on prescription drugs, by some estimates, nearly one-fifth of all health care costs. Patent-protected brand-name drugs drive spending, making up only about 10 percent of prescriptions but accounting for three-quarters of drug spending.
You can read Patients For Affordable Drugs Now’s full testimony for the record here. Below please find a summary of pricing practices and key questions for the Pharma CEOs.
About AbbVie: AbbVie’s anti-inflammatory drug Humira is the top-selling drug in the world. The drug company doubled the price from about $19,000 per year in 2012 to $38,000 per year in 2018. AbbVie secured more than 100 patents on Humira, ensuring that patent thickets will keep competition off the U.S. market. Meanwhile, the company cut the price in Europe by 80 percent for the exact same drug.
- Is it fair that Europeans have access to a less expensive biosimilar competitor for Humira, but your company bragged about blocking that competition in the U.S.?
- Do you partake in pay for delay or deals for delay? Do you support the Preserve Access to Affordable Generics and Biosimilars Act (S.64)?
- Since Humira has already been very successful with more sales than the revenue of eBay, will you commit to holding the price of Humira steady until a biosimilar comes to market?
About Pfizer: Pfizer’s history of price hikes is as staggering as it is long. Here’s a look at the last three years: In 2017, Pfizer raised the price of 91 drugs by 20 percent — that was nearly 10 times the rate of inflation. In mid-2018, Pfizer announced price hikes on about 100 prescription drugs. After temporary freezes, Pfizer raised the raised the price of 40 drugs in January 2019.
- Will you commit to limiting the increase in list price of your drugs to the rate of inflation?
- Will you commit to submitting to this committee at the end of this year (2019) a report of the ways you have utilized the $10 billion stock buyback to serve patients?
About Sanofi: Almost 30 million Americans live with diabetes and 6 million need insulin to survive. From 2010 to 2015, Sanofi raised the price of the lifesaving diabetes drug Lantus by 168 percent.
- If PBM rebates were eliminated, would you lower your list prices?
- Will you commit to undoing the dozens of times you’ve raised the price of Lantus and lower the list price this year?
- As the Chairman of the lobbying group, PhRMA, your organization spent $27.5 million on lobbying in 2018. Next year, will you agree to take half that money and use it to lower drug prices across the board for patients?
MERCK & CO., INC.
About Merck: Merck is no stranger to drug price increases. From January 2017 to mid-2018, Merck raised the price of Januvia by nearly 20 percent. In November 2018, the corporation raised the price on five drugs, including top-selling Gardasil and Keytruda.
- Will you submit, for the record, the cost of research and development for the drug Keytruda, which reaped a total of $1.89 billion the third quarter of 2018 alone –– an increase of 80% since 2017?
- Your company recently spent $10 billion on stock buybacks. This year, will you commit to decreasing drug prices by that same amount?
JOHNSON & JOHNSON
About Johnson & Johnson: Since 2012, Johnson & Johnson has raised the price of its blockbuster drug Xarelto by 87 percent. In January of 2019, the company raised the price on about two dozen drugs.
- Will you commit to holding your price increases to inflation each year?
- Will you commit to striking a deal with the New York Drug Utilization Review Board if they deem it necessary to decrease the cost of Remicade for state taxpayers?
BRISTOL-MYERS SQUIBB CO.
About Bristol-Myers Squibb: Over the last eight years, Bristol-Myers Squibb has spent over$25 million in lobbying expenditures and $1.75 million in campaign contributions, according to Open Secrets. The company raised the price of its blockbuster drug Eliquis by 6 percentin January 2019. Last year alone, U.S. patients paid Bristol-Myers Squibb $3.8 billion for Eliquis, a 30 percent year-over-year increase.
- Will you commit to donating 50% less to candidates for public office in 2020 and investing that money toward research and development or decreasing price for patients?
- With your recent acquisition of Celgene, will you commit to ending Celgene’s use of the REMS program to prevent a generic from coming to market for its blockbuster drug, Revlimid?
- Do you support the CREATES Act?
About AstraZeneca: AstraZeneca has a history of charging cancer patients high prices. Here are three examples: Imfinzi costs $180,000 per year for lung cancer, Lynparza costs around $15,000 for 112 pills for ovarian cancer, and Iressa costs $8,000 for 30 pills for lung cancer. And before AstraZeneca faced a generic competitor for its high cholesterol drug, Crestor, the company raised prices multiple times, including by about 15 percent right before a generic competitor came to market.
- Will you submit for the record the following information: the amount you have spent on research and development vs. AstraZeneca’s yearly budget for marketing and advertising?
WASHINGTON, D.C. — After today’s Senate Finance Committee and House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearings on skyrocketing prescription drug prices, David Mitchell, a cancer patient and the founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now, issued the following statement:
“Today’s hearings are an encouraging start. It’s clear that there is bipartisan support to rein in Big Pharma’s monopoly pricing power.
“We are not surprised that drug corporations refused the Senate Committee’s invitation to participate. Those drug company CEOs can’t defend the indefensible.
“We look forward to helping Congress stand up to the drug industry and begin to actually lower drug prices for patients. Unchecked, drug company executives will continue to hold patients hostage to increase their profits. Congress needs to let them know that these abuses won’t stand any longer.”
- Millions of Americans don’t take their medications because of high prescription prices.
- The government’s failure to negotiate on drug prices hurts patients and taxpayers. According to a recent study in JAMA, Medicare Part D could have saved $14.4 billion in 2016 alone by negotiating as the Department of Veterans Affairs does.
- A recent Harvard/Politico poll showed that 80 percent of American people say that Congress’ top priority should be action to lower drug prices.
- Joan Tramontano, 77, of Venice, Florida spent a career in public relations, saving all she could for retirement. After doctors diagnosed her with GIST, or gastrointestinal stromal tumor, she was prescribed Gleevec in 2009, a Novartis drug that rose in price from $26,000 in 2001 to $140,000 in 2017, an increase of nearly 440 percent.
“My out-of-pocket for that drug with Medicare Part D insurance has come, so far, to $60,000, cutting deeply into my retirement money, which is incredibly devastating and scary. I’m so glad to see Congress, with investigations and hearings, focusing this week on Novartis and a drug that has caused so much financial devastation and worry to me. Patients like me need Congress to act to lower drug prices soon. We hope the future will bring legislation to finally negotiate drug prices, crack down on excessive price hikes, bring more transparency to our system, and protect patients from unfair price gouging.”