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A Detailed Look At 5 Drugs That Tell The Story

Read the Full Report Here.

Washington, DC — Ahead of the release of the final guidance for the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Program from the Biden-Harris administration, Protect Our Care is releasing a new report that provides a detailed look at five drugs that will likely qualify for the first round of negotiations, demonstrating the importance of finally allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices. The five drugs are:

  • Enbrel which is sold by Amgen to treat arthritis and plaque psoriasis. Enbrel has seen a 346% price increase since 2008.
  • Ibrance which is sold by Pfizer to treat breast cancer. It cost $181,663 for an annual supply of Ibrance in 2022.
  • Imbruvica which is sold by AbbVie to treat Leukemia and Lymphoma. The average annual out-of-pocket cost for Imbruvica was $7,118 in 2020.
  • Januvia which is sold by Merck to treat Type 2 Diabetes. Januvia made $49.9 billion in global revenue.
  • Xarelto which is sold by Johnson & Johnson to treat blood clots. Medicare has spent $25 billion on Xarelto since its launch.

Together, the Medicare program incurred total spending of $16.69 billion in 2021 alone for these five drugs. These drugs have high list prices and list price increases over time that far exceed inflation. Imbruvica has an annual list price tag of $197,486; Ibrance is priced at $181,663 per year. Enbrel’s price is $82,001 per year, which has grown by 346% since 2008. These prices translate into billions in sales for drugmakers. For example, Medicare has spent nearly $28 billion on Januvia since 2010 and $15.4 billion on Enbrel since 2010.

Big drug companies protect their profits by exploiting the patent system to extend the length of time their drugs are on the market without generic or biosimilar competitors. AbbVie, for example, has filed 195 patent applications for Imbruvica to thwart competition, extending its patent protection for an additional 5.3 years and yielding $13.8 billion in revenue. Amgen has extended patent protections for Enbrel by 13.6 years, protecting $55 billion in revenue. 

After voting against lowering drug prices, reducing health care premiums, capping insulin costs, and improving care for seniors and people with disabilities in the Inflation Reduction Act, it is no surprise that Republicans and big drug companies are now attacking it in Congress and the courts. Pharmaceutical giants Merck and Bristol Myers Squibb, as well as mega lobbying groups, PhRMA and the US Chamber of Commerce, are filing meritless lawsuits to protect their profits and stop the administration from negotiating lower drug prices. MAGA Republicans in Congress have introduced legislation to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act’s prescription drug provisions and revoke the savings for millions. 

“For far too long, Big Pharma has held unchecked power to charge whatever they wanted for prescription drugs, and patients have been forced to skip doses and choose between their health and putting food on the table,” said Leslie Dach, Chair, Protect Our Care. “Patients deserve affordable care and the Inflation Reduction Act keeps that promise. Thankfully, President Biden and Democrats are committed to lowering drug costs and delivering savings to those who need it most.”

“These five drugs tell the story of Big Pharma’s greed at the expense of seniors and taxpayers,” said Andrea Harris, Director of Policy Programs, Protect Our Care. “They lost the lobbying battle against reducing drug prices for seniors by negotiating lower prices, and now they are doing everything in their power to stop the law from helping patients who are cutting pills and skipping doses. The Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Program is finally ending the age of Big Pharma’s unchecked power to charge whatever they want for drugs.