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Drugmakers send in counteroffers for Medicare price negotiation program

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(The Center Square) – The makers of the all the drugs picked for the federal government’s Medicare price negotiation program sent back counteroffers, President Joe Biden said Monday.

“Today, my Administration is announcing that manufacturers for all ten selected drugs will continue to participate in drug price negotiations, as all manufacturers have submitted counteroffers,” Biden said in a statement Monday. “This is an important milestone in our fight to give seniors the best possible deal on their prescription drugs and in lowering health care costs for all families.”

Drugmakers and trade groups have filed lawsuits alleging the program violates federal law and is unconstitutional.

Back in August 2023, federal officials named the first 10 drugs that will be subject to the first ever price negotiations by Medicare with drug companies. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the first 10 drugs covered under Medicare Part D selected for negotiation:

EliquisJardianceXareltoJanuviaFarxigaEntrestoEnbrelImbruvicaStelaraFiasp; Fiasp FlexTouch; Fiasp PenFill; NovoLog; NovoLog FlexPen; NovoLog PenFill

The list includes some of the most widely used and expensive drugs. Medicare enrollees taking the 10 drugs paid a total of $3.4 billion in out-of-pocket costs in 2022 for these drugs, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Biden used Monday’s announcement to attack drugmakers and Republicans who have opposed the effort.

“And it comes in the face of attacks from Big Pharma in the courts and from Republicans in Congress who continue to try to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act which would keep seniors on Medicare from benefitting from these lower cost drugs,” Biden said.

Biden also said he would use his State of the Union address on Thursday to “discuss my Administration’s efforts to lower health care costs and how we will continue to take on Big Pharma to make prescription drugs more affordable for all Americans.”

Any negotiated prices would become effective beginning in 2026.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services must publish any agreed-upon negotiated prices for the selected drugs by Sept. 1, 2024. Those prices would go into effect starting Jan. 1, 2026.

In future years, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will select up to 15 more drugs covered under Part D for negotiation for 2027 and up to 15 more drugs for 2028 (including drugs covered under Part B and Part D), and up to 20 more drugs for each year after that, as outlined in the Inflation Reduction Act, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents businesses, has opposed the federal government’s pricing scheme, which it said could backfire. U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley previously said that the group supports affordable medicine, but the government’s plan could prove counterproductive.

“The U.S. Chamber supports access to affordable medicine, but a government price control scheme is counterproductive and will restrict access to critical medicines, delay treatment for patients, and jeopardize the search for new lifesaving cures,” Bradley said in a statement. “In its rush to implement the [Inflation Reduction Act’s] price control scheme, the Biden administration failed to examine the likely negative side effects of the policy.”

Bradley also said the price scheme could stifle innovation.

“The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reports that this policy will result in fewer new treatments,” he said. “However, there is no way to know if it is likely to be fewer cancer drugs or Alzheimer’s treatments because the administration has not examined the issue. It is a well-known fact that in other countries with similar policies, patients have access to fewer treatments and longer wait times to get treatment. But we don’t know the impact on access and wait times for America’s seniors because the administration failed to conduct any research or analysis.”

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America President and CEO Stephen Ubl previously warned of consequences from the government’s drug pricing plan.

“Today’s announcement is the result of a rushed process focused on short-term political gain rather than what is best for patients,” Ubl said in a statement at the time. “Giving a single government agency the power to arbitrarily set the price of medicines with little accountability, oversight or input from patients and their doctors will have significant negative consequences long after this administration is gone. And insurance companies and their PBMs may further restrict access to medicines through increased utilization management, higher copays and more restrictive formularies.”

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