Speakers Also Outlined Drug Companies’ Ongoing Efforts to Protect Their Profits, New Polling on Negotiation, and Legal Threats to the Law
Washington, DC — Today, legal expert William Schultz, Brookings Schaeffer Initiative on Health Policy’s Dr. Richard Frank, and Hart Research’s Geoff Garin joined Protect Our Care to discuss the current state of play as the Biden administration is poised to announce the first 10 drugs selected for Medicare negotiation under the Inflation Reduction Act. During the event, Geoff Garin released new Hart Research polling showing that the Medicare negotiation remains overwhelmingly popular despite big drug companies’ efforts to dismantle the program. Speakers also discussed what the Biden administration’s announcement means for seniors across the nation as well as legal threats to Medicare negotiation.
This week, CMS is expected to announce the first round of drugs eligible for lower prices under the Medicare Drug Negotiation Program, which will lower prices for millions of seniors. As the Biden administration is working to implement this core provision of the Inflation Reduction Act, big drug companies are going to court to protect their profits. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), Chambers of Commerce, Merck, Bristol Myers Squibb, Astellas Pharma, Johnson & Johnson-owned Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Boehringer Ingelheim, and AstraZeneca have all filed lawsuits against the federal government challenging the constitutionality of the Inflation Reduction Act’s Medicare Prescription Drug Negotiation Program.
“The fact of the matter is other governmental agencies negotiate payments for prescription drugs or get very significant discounts on the prices they pay for,” said William Schultz, Partner, Zuckerman Spaeder, former General Counsel, Department of Health and Human Services. “They don’t address that in their legal filings. The Veterans Administration, the Defense Department, the Public Health Service, the Coast Guard – even Medicaid – all get very significant discounts in the prices they pay because of federal law.”
“The drugs that are most likely to be selected for negotiation have already made large net revenues over and above their costs of bringing drugs to market,” said Dr. Richard Frank, Director of the Brookings Schaeffer Initiative on Health Policy. “If you look at Januvia, which is a Merck drug, the difference between their cumulative revenues and the cost of bringing a drug to market, including all the failures, is still $47 billion. So there’s still plenty of incentive for these drugs to be brought to market knowing that nine years into their lives the price is going to potentially be negotiated.”
“There is exceptionally broad and strong support among voters nationally for Medicare price negotiations,” said Geoff Garin, President of Hart Research. “When the drug companies cry crocodile tears, there is no sympathy from the public. The arguments of the pharmaceutical industry fall flat with voters, Americans support Medicare price negotiations, and Republicans continue to be tied at the hip to the pharmaceutical industry despite all of this.”
“Prescription drugs cannot work if people cannot afford to take them, but the Inflation Reduction Act is working to finally rein in costs,” said Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach. “Medicare negotiation is wildly popular and will make a difference in the lives of millions of people, but that hasn’t stopped big drug companies from holding on tight to their endless profits. Fortunately, the Biden administration is pushing ahead to ensure people can sleep easier at night knowing they can afford the prescriptions they need.”