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HEADLINES: Drug Companies Agree To Negotiate Lower Prices with Medicare “To Give Seniors The Best Possible Deal”

By October 4, 2023No Comments

President Biden announced this week that all the pharmaceutical companies whose prescription drugs were part of the first round of high-cost drugs selected for negotiation announced they entered into agreements with Medicare to begin the process. This new program will lower prices for some of the most expensive prescription drugs on the market used to treat conditions like diabetes, heart failure, blood clots, and autoimmune disorders – conditions that disproportionately impact women, communities of color, and people in rural areas. Together, these drugs are taken by nearly 9 million people on Medicare, account for about 20 percent of annual Medicare Part D spending, and have made a combined $493 billion in global revenue. Read more about the first 10 drugs here.

This is a historic milestone in lowering drug prices through finally empowering Medicare to negotiate on behalf of seniors, which was enacted as part of the Inflation Reduction Act championed by President Biden and Democrats in Congress. Negotiating lower prices is overwhelmingly popular across the country, yet big drug companies are suing the federal government to protect their massive profits by halting the program while Republicans are attempting to repeal it. Read more about the lawsuits here


The Messenger: Biden’s Campaign is Boasting About Lowering Prescription Drug Prices. Republican Opposition Has Given Them an Opening. “Republican presidential candidates quickly and roundly slammed the act, and, by extension, the moves on prescription drugs, giving the Biden campaign an opening for clear contrast. […] Despite the overwhelming Republican opposition, Democrats are confident focusing on this policy will help Biden in 2024, especially given inflation and rising costs are consistently a top concern. […] ‘For decades people have been concerned about the cost of prescription drugs, and for decades politicians have talked about it, but Joe Biden actually got it done and it’s a great issue to campaign on and not just among seniors,’ [Democratic strategist Eddie] Vale said. ‘And to make matters even worse Republicans are actively talking about wanting to repeal the law if they win and take away the government’s right to negotiate lower prices for people.’” [The Messenger, 10/4/23

AP News: Biden Says That All 10 Drugs Targeted For The First Medicare Price Negotiations Will Participate. “President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that the manufacturers of all of the first 10 prescription drugs selected for Medicare’s first price negotiations have agreed to participate, clearing the way for talks that could lower their costs in coming years and give him a potential political win heading into next year’s election. […] ‘For many Americans, the cost of one drug is the difference between life and death, dignity and dependence, hope and fear,’ Biden said in the video, ‘And that’s why we’ll continue to fight to lower health care costs and we will not stop until we finish the job.’” [Associated Press, 10/3/23]

BioSpace: Ten Companies Register to Participate in Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Program. “All 10 pharmaceutical companies whose products were selected for the first round of Medicare drug price negotiations have agreed to participate in the talks, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday. […] With all 10 companies’ participation confirmed, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) can now move forward with the negotiation process, which will take place throughout the remainder of this year and into 2024, according to Tuesday’s HHS announcement. This fall, CMS will hold listening sessions with patients, beneficiaries, consumer advocacy organizations, caregivers and other stakeholders. CMS will also meet with the pharmaceutical companies to discuss previous submissions that the agency will consider in determining a maximum fair price. CMS will then make its initial offer for the selected pharmaceutical products, providing the companies with a ‘concise justification’ for the maximum fair price.” [BioSpace, 10/4/23]

Bloomberg Law: All Drugmakers Enter Medicare Drug Price Talks Amid Lawsuits. “Each of the drugmakers selected for the first cycle of Medicare’s drug price negotiation have entered agreements with the agency, the companies told Bloomberg Law. […] Despite all drugmakers agreeing to negotiate, nine drugmakers and industry groups have filed legal challenges seeking to topple the drug price negotiations. The lawsuits argue that the provisions unconstitutionally force companies to lower prices for their products and discourage innovation. The CMS next will host a series of patient-focused listening sessions beginning Oct. 30 on the 10 selected drugs. The sessions are meant to provide patients, beneficiaries, caregivers, consumer and patient organizations, and other interested parties the chance to share input relevant to drugs selected for the first cycle of negotiations. ” [Bloomberg Law, 10/2/23]

CNBC: Drugmakers Opt In To Medicare Drug Price Negotiations – Here’s What Happens Next. “All drugmakers of the first 10 medicines selected for Medicare drug price negotiations have agreed to participate in the talks, even after many of them sued to halt the process last month. […] ‘Today I can announce that the manufacturers of ten drugs are coming to the negotiating table to lower prices,’ President Joe Biden said in a video on X, formerly known as Twitter. ‘They’re taking steps to participate in the negotiating program so we can give seniors the best possible deal.’ Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which passed last year, empowered Medicare to negotiate drug prices for the first time in the program’s six-decade history. The lengthy negotiation process won’t end until August 2024, with reduced prices going into effect in January 2026.” [CNBC, 10/2/23]

CNN: Drugmakers Agree To Negotiate Prices In Medicare Even As They Sue To Stop The Program. “The White House heralded the manufacturers’ participation in the program, which was authorized by the Inflation Reduction Act, which Democrats pushed through Congress last year. ‘For decades, Big Pharma fought to block Medicare from directly negotiating lower drug prices for seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries, while nearly three in ten Americans struggle to afford their medications because of cost,’ the White House said in a fact sheet. ‘President Biden and Congressional Democrats finally beat Big Pharma and allowed Medicare to directly negotiate lower drug prices by passing the Inflation Reduction Act – despite zero Republicans voting in favor of the bill.’ But the drug industry is continuing to try to halt the negotiation process. Manufacturers and industry groups have filed multiple lawsuits in federal courts across the US.” [CNN, 10/3/23]

The Hill: Biden’s Drug Price Negotiation Plan Nets Win. “The Biden administration took a victory lap Tuesday as the White House confirmed all 10 manufacturers of the first drugs selected for Medicare price negotiations will be participating in the program. This comes despite the fact that many of the companies are currently suing the administration in an effort to halt the process. For outside observers, it wasn’t a surprise. Despite the lawsuits and threats, drug companies want to sell their products in the Medicare marketplace. They could either play ball with the administration and negotiate a price, or they could leave. Allowing Medicare to negotiate the price of prescription drugs is politically very popular — a September AP/NORC poll found 76 percent of Americans favor the policy, and that includes a majorities [sic] of Republicans and Democrats.” [The Hill, 10/3/23]

NBC News: Drugmakers Agree To Negotiate Drug Prices With Government, White House Says. “Major drug companies including Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Bristol Myers Squibb have committed to participate in Medicare drug price negotiations with the federal government, the Biden administration said Tuesday. The move is a positive step for people on Medicare, although there are still lawsuits from drug companies fighting the price negotiations. […] In June, Merck announced a lawsuit against the federal government over the negotiation provision. Other drugmakers, including Johnson & Johnson, have since filed similar suits. The companies say allowing Medicare to negotiate prices would lead to lower profits, causing drugmakers to reduce spending in research and development.” [NBC News, 10/3/23]

The New York Times: Drug Makers Agree to Negotiate With Medicare on Prices of 10 Medications. “Politically, Mr. Biden has used the drug negotiation provision in the law as a way of demonstrating his willingness to fight against big corporate interests on behalf of Americans who are struggling with high prices. Last month at an event in Maryland, the president boasted about his achievements. ‘I, along with your senators in Congress, have been trying for our whole careers to take on Big Pharma,’ he said, saying the companies had long tried to intimidate lawmakers by spending hundreds of millions of dollars on lobbyists. ‘But guess what? It happened. We finally won.’ The White House has also used the issue to focus on the differences between Democrats and Republicans. ‘Not a single solitary Republican voted for that,’ Mr. Biden said in Maryland. ‘And now — and now they want to repeal it.’” [The New York Times, 10/3/23]

NPR: Drugmakers Will Negotiate With Medicare On Price. But They’re Suing, Too. “For the first time, Medicare is beginning to negotiate the prices of prescription drugs. Despite a pack of industry lawsuits to keep the negotiations from happening, the drugmakers say they are coming to the bargaining table anyway. […] The drugs included blockbuster blood thinners Xarelto and Eliquis, as well as drugs for arthritis, cancer, diabetes and heart failure. Although more than a third of the companies that make drugs on the list have sued the federal government, all the companies have signed agreements saying they will negotiate.” [NPR, 10/4/23]

Truthout: All Manufacturers of 10 Drugs Set for Medicare Negotiation Agree to Participate. “On Tuesday, the Biden administration announced that all prescription drug manufacturers representing the 10 medications selected for negotiation through Medicare under a newly enacted policy have agreed to take part in the process, which should formally begin early next year. […] More medications will be negotiated in the future, the administration said, and around 60 medications will be part of the program over the next four years. […] Most Americans support the government having the ability to negotiate the costs of medication; a recent poll found that 76 percent back the idea, while only 6 percent said they opposed it.” [Truthout, 10/3/23]