The Biden administration on Feb. 1 sent out initial offers to the manufacturers of 10 of the most expensive and commonly used drugs as part of the first round of negotiations aimed at lowering medication prices for millions of Americans.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the launch of the first cycle of the “Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Program” in a press release. However, it did not specify the initial offers made to pharmaceutical companies in the government’s negotiations.
Officials noted that under the Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law by President Joe Biden in 2022, Medicare now has the authority to directly negotiate prescription drug prices with drug companies, a practice similar to that of the Department of Veterans Affairs and other federal agencies.
The negotiation cycle will involve roughly six months of discussions between the manufacturers and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) with the final negotiated prices set to take effect in 2026.
‘Exorbitant Price Gouging’According to the CMS, the medications include Eliquis, Jardiance, Xarelto, Januvia, Enbrel, Farxiga, Entresto, Imbruvica, and Stelara, as well as multiple types of Novo Nordisk’s Fiasp such as Fiasp FlexTouch, Fiasp PenFill, NovoLog, NovoLog FlexPen, and NovoLog PenFill.
The drugmakers are Bristol Myers Squibb, Merck, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen division, Novo Nordisk, and AstraZeneca, among others.
“Today is another milestone on the march to ensure people with Medicare get fair prices for prescription drugs. I am confident that this process will lead to lower prices, putting an end to exorbitant price gouging by pharmaceutical companies,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in a statement.
“From day one, the Biden-Harris Administration has been committed to lowering the cost of prescription drugs for the American people,” he continued.
‘Exercise to Win Political Points’The price negotiations are part of a push by President Biden to lower drug prices ahead of the November presidential election, where he looks set for a potential rematch with his predecessor, former President Donald Trump.
However, pharmaceutical companies have pushed back on the negotiations, branding them unconstitutional, and said they were essentially forced to take part in the negotiating process or risk paying steep penalties.
Lobbying groups including the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) are challenging the process in court.
“Government bureaucrats are operating behind closed doors to set medicine prices without disclosing for months how they arrived at the price or how much patient and provider input was used. This lack of transparency and unchecked authority will have lasting consequences for patients long after this administration is gone,” Mr. Schriver concluded.