WASHINGTON, DC — In response to the news that the Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) released a slate of reforms to lower prescription drug prices for patients and taxpayers, David Mitchell, a cancer patient and the founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now, issued the following statement:
“Americans are demanding action to lower drug prices, and the Senate Finance Committee has taken an important step forward with its proposals today. Most importantly, the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019 would discourage Big Pharma from increasing the prices of prescription drugs at multiple times the rate of inflation each year. It would also cap seniors’ out of pocket costs in Medicare Part D at $3,100 annually. These changes will help the most vulnerable citizens afford prescription drugs, save taxpayers money, and hold the line on drug price and premium increases.
“The package protects innovation and maintains patient access to innovative drugs. And, by capping increases at the rate of inflation, it ensures that we don’t have to pay huge increases on initial high launch prices of drugs.
“Other elements of the package are significant, including the increase in the rebate cap and limits on spread pricing by PBMs in Medicaid.
“We urge members of the Senate Finance Committee to advance this package. Members of Congress must guard at every turn against changes that would weaken the bill. Voters have given Congress a mandate to lower drug prices, and patients can’t afford to wait any longer.”
While we are encouraged by many of the changes the Senate Finance Committee has proposed, we also have a number of questions and concerns. We are hopeful the Committee will consider changes that:
Ensure patients benefit from inflation-based rebates in Medicare Part B and D.Under the current draft, if a pharmaceutical manufacturer increases list prices for certain drugs above inflation, drug companies must pay a rebate to HHS and thus the Medicare Supplemental Medical Insurance Trust Fund. We hope the committee will clarify how patients will experience savings from the rebate if a drug company gouges Medicare beneficiaries.
Avoid burdening state Medicaid programs with extraordinarily expensive drugs. The current problem in our system isn’t Medicaid’s inability to pay for drugs over time — it’s the high price of drugs set by drug corporations. States already have flexibility to implement unique payment models, and the bill (including Section 208) does little to lower the list price of drugs that are bankrupting state Medicaid programs.
Lower the list price of drugs: The bill could go much further to address the list prices of prescription drugs. America continues to pay two to three times more than other countries for the same prescription drugs because our government does not negotiate to get the best possible deal for citizens, unlike every other developed nation.