08.29.2023 / Statement
Medicare drug negotiation sets a precedent for the entire health care system: People deserve to pay a fair price for their prescriptions
WASHINGTON, DC – Families USA executive director Frederick Isasi issued the following statement today on the announcement of the first ten drugs selected for Medicare price negotiation:
“Today’s announcement of the first ten drugs for Medicare negotiation marks an essential step in our David versus Goliath battle against drug companies’ inhumane prices — despite decades of big drug companies lobbying to protect their sky-high profits at the expense of prescription drug affordability. Congress and the Biden administration have empowered Medicare to negotiate for older adults who simply want to be able to afford their medications. That negotiation process starts today.”
“Millions of older adults and people with disabilities that rely on Medicare for their health – who risked falling into a financial sinkhole when they approached the pharmacy counter — will see significant savings on the diabetes medication, cancer treatment, blood thinners and other critical drugs named today that keep them alive. It’s outrageous that older adults are skipping doses of their lifesaving medications because they can’t afford them after paying rent, buying groceries and putting gas in their cars. Some even worry that they can’t afford to retire. No one should be forced to choose between their health and financial security to get the medication they need. This sets a precedent for the entire health care system to rein in high health care costs, root out drug pricing abuses, and protect family’s health and wallets.”
“The ten drugs announced today have been around for a long time, often more than a decade, have no competition, and cover a broad range of critical therapies for medical conditions that affect many of us and our families, including cancer, heart failure, diabetes, arthritis, and autoimmune disorders. They are all extremely expensive. Collectively, they accounted for $50.5 billion in covered prescription drug costs, or about 20% of covered prescription drug costs during that time period – which isn’t surprising.
Enbrel, which first received FDA approval decades ago in the 90s and is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, has a list price of $1,762.34 per 50 mg dose. Patients relying on this drug sometimes take it weekly or even twice weekly. Eliquis, which has been on the market for about a decade and is a common blood thinner used by over three million Medicare enrollees, is listed at $561 per month. That means for three million people, the cost of their medication is set to go down. This is an important step towards prioritizing the health of older adults, instead of padding the pockets of big drug companies with older drugs that have no competition.”
“We need to make sure that older adults who rely on Medicare can afford their life-saving medications. Now, millions of people who rely on these ten drugs will no longer have to choose between filling a prescription or putting food on the table. They will no longer have to ask themselves, ‘Is this life-saving drug worth the pain of crushing debt?’ This is the kind of prescription America must always fill.”