The United States government has announced that it will be conducting the first-ever price negotiations for prescription medicines through the Medicare health program. This move is part of President Joe Biden's Inflation Reduction Act, which aims to lower drug costs and save $25 billion per year by 2031. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency responsible for Medicare, was previously prohibited from negotiating prices with drug manufacturers, but now has the power to do so.
The negotiations will begin with a list of 10 drugs that the government spends the most on annually. These drugs include Januvia, a diabetes drug from Merck & Co, Eliquis, a blood thinner from Bristol Myers Squibb and Pfizer, and Imbruvica, a leukemia treatment from AbbVie. Other drugs on the list include Enbrel, a rheumatoid arthritis drug from Amgen, Entresto, a cardiovascular drug from Novartis, and Farxiga, a diabetes drug from AstraZeneca.
The drug manufacturers have until October 1 to agree to the negotiations, and if they refuse, they will face heavy fines. By October 2, they must provide extensive data to the government, which will be used to propose lower prices. Medicare plans to send its first offers to manufacturers by February 1, and they will have 30 days to make counteroffers. The negotiations must end by August 1, and the new prices will be published on September 1. The law requires that negotiated prices be at least 25 percent lower than the original list prices.
Patients in the Medicare program could start seeing savings in 2026, depending on their prescription drug plans. However, there are challenges ahead for the negotiation process. Several drug manufacturers and business groups have filed lawsuits seeking to derail the entire process, arguing that the new law is unconstitutional. The US Chamber of Commerce, the largest business lobby group in the country, hopes to obtain a court-ordered injunction against the program by October 1. Additionally, the upcoming US presidential election could bring further uncertainty, as a change in leadership may result in a different stance on the law passed by Democrats.
The release of the list of drugs subject to price negotiations has been met with mixed reactions. The Biden administration believes that this is a necessary step to address the high costs of prescription drugs in the United States. According to the White House, Americans have been paying more for prescription drugs than any other major economy. The hope is that these negotiations will lead to lower prices and reduced out-of-pocket costs for seniors.
However, the move is facing criticism from Republican lawmakers and legal challenges from the pharmaceutical industry. The lawsuits argue that the new law is unconstitutional, but the government maintains that it has the legal authority to negotiate prices. The outcome of these legal battles and the upcoming presidential election could impact the future of the negotiation process.
Overall, the release of the list of drugs subject to price negotiations marks a significant step in the Biden administration's efforts to lower drug costs and improve access to affordable healthcare for seniors. The success of these negotiations and the potential savings for patients remain to be seen, but it is clear that this is a contentious issue that will continue to be debated and challenged in the coming months.
themes: Joe Biden