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Pro-Pharma Efforts to Block Medicare Negotiations Receives Widespread Backlash From Lawmakers, Experts, and Patient Groups

By October 26, 2021No Comments

Lawmakers & Advocates Demand Action to Give Medicare the Full Power to Negotiate & Lower Drug Prices Now 

As President Biden and patient advocates are fighting tirelessly to give Medicare the power to lower prescription drug prices in the Build Back Better Act, press reports have indicated that Big Pharma has tightened its grip on its allies in Congress — potentially threatening prescription drug pricing reform altogether. The reports indicate that pro-Pharma members are actually trying to prohibit negotiations for the drugs that cost the most for people – brand name drugs, those still on patent, and those that already have no competition. 

This would maintain the status quo where drug companies can dictate whatever price they want and Americans pay three times more for the same drug as people in other countries. Patient groups and Democratic lawmakers from across the political spectrum firmly agree: this is not the time for capitulation to drug companies. Congress must act now to give Medicare real power to negotiate for lower drug prices for all Americans. 

Representative Peter Welch (D-VT-AL): “It’s Outrageous And It’s Unjustifiable And It Would Be Political Malpractice For Congress To Do Nothing.”  “Average prescription drug prices in the US are far higher than anywhere else in the world, and we must take action to protect our citizens from the constant price gouging. This is a source of enormous anxiety for folks who need these drugs for themselves or the ones they love. It’s outrageous and it’s unjustifiable and it would be political malpractice for Congress to do nothing. By saving money — simply by stopping this ongoing pharma rip off — we can help Americans afford lifesaving drugs, whether they voted for Trump or voted for Biden.” [Protect Our Care Press Call, 10/25/21

  • Rep. Welch: Alternative Proposals “Will Leave Us At The Mercy Of Monopoly Pricing Power.” “Lawmakers are now weighing only negotiating the drug costs after their period of exclusivity has expired, which would exclude many of the costliest drugs and incentivize pharmaceutical companies to extend their patents as long as possible. The costs would be pegged to those paid by VA instead of the international reference pricing scheme of H.R. 3 (117). ‘There isn’t negotiation where it matters. It will leave us at the mercy of monopoly pricing power,’ Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) lamented on a call with reporters Monday. ‘It just breaks the back of the whole concept.’” [Politico, 10/26/21] 

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN): “Limiting Negotiations to Off-Patent Drugs Is Exactly What Pharma Wants.” [@amyklobuchar, 10/22/21

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR): Without Negotiation, “Pharmaceutical Companies Will Continue Hiking Drug Prices Much Faster Than Wages Grow For Typical Americans.” “​​America is at a crossroads when it comes to paying for prescription drugs. Down one path, pharmaceutical companies will continue hiking drug prices much faster than wages grow for typical Americans. They’ll continue launching headline-grabbing drugs at outrageous list prices, even when there are questions about whether those drugs truly work. In this scenario, the result of drug companies’ unchecked power could be that many more Americans will borrow for life-saving treatments the way they borrow for homes and educations.” [Boston Globe, 10/25/21]

Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT): “As Long As The Greed Of The Pharmaceutical Industry Continues To Go Unchecked, They Can Charge You, The American People, Whatever Price They Want!” [@BernieSanders, 10/25/21

Representative Jared Golden (D-ME-02): “One Of The Strongest And Most Effective Provisions In The Bill — Prescription Drug Reform — Is Under Threat. It Must Be Saved.” “But amid all the push and pull, one of the strongest and most effective provisions in the bill — prescription drug reform — is under threat. It must be saved. The impact of this provision on Mainers, particularly Maine seniors, would make a difference in hundreds of thousands of lives in our state.” [Jared Golden Medium, 10/24/21

AARP & Patients for Affordable Drugs: “This Is Not A Moment To Equivocate, Delay, Or Dilute The Foundational Elements Of Effective Reform.” “This is not a moment to equivocate, delay, or dilute the foundational elements of effective reform. This is the moment to enact legislation that will help millions of Americans who are forgoing drugs they have been prescribed but cannot afford, rationing, and choosing between paying rent or paying for prescriptions they need.” [AARP & Patients for Affordable Drugs, 10/21/21

Bill Sweeney, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs at AARP: “Letting Medicare negotiate is the BEST and most effective policy to lower prices and save Medicare money.” [@BillSweeneyDC, 10/26/21]

Geoff Gain, President of Hart Research: “Support For Medicare Negotiations Is Nearly Universal, And Establishing A System To Lower Drug Prices Is A Top Priority For Voters.” “As we head into the final days of debate, we must understand that there is overwhelming consensus in this country that the amount pharmaceutical companies charge for prescription drugs is unreasonable. Support for Medicare negotiations is nearly universal, and establishing a system to lower drug prices is a top priority for voters. Even in the face of the strongest opposition from pharmaceutical companies, voters continue to support lowering prescription drug prices through Medicare negotiations.” [Protect Our Care Press Call, 10/25/21]