Employer and health groups push Congress to pass drug price revamp


Dozens of employer and health groups teamed up on Tuesday to pressure congressional leaders to pass legislation to revamp drug pricing, in what they called a “unique and time-limited” opportunity to lower costs.

Nearly 40 organizations, including the AFL-CIO and Families USA, signed a letter calling on Congress to advance legislation that permits Medicare to negotiate drug prices to achieve “meaningful” drug pricing reform this year.

The groups said major drug pricing legislation also needs to include caps for price increases that match the rate of inflation under Medicare and private plans as well as a renovation of Part D to reduce prices for both beneficiaries and taxpayers.

“The high price of prescription drugs and their cost to consumers has gone unaddressed for far too long while America’s families have watched their elected leaders allow politics to overcome meaningful progress,” the letter reads.

“Any proposal absent these elements will ultimately fail to deliver meaningful relief to the American people,” it added. 

The letter was addressed to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

The organizations noted they were “encouraged” by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden’s (D-Ore.) proposal to decrease prescription drug costs released last month, as well as the reintroduction of H.R. 3 – House Democrats’ bill to permit Medicare drug negotiations.

“It is clear we are at a critical moment to finally end the pharmaceutical industry’s anticompetitive behaviors and unjustified, egregious pricing that makes drugs unaffordable to patients, employers, and taxpayers,” the letter said.

Democrats have long supported allowing Medicare to negotiate reduced drug prices, while Republicans have mostly sided with the pharmaceutical industry in opposing the measure. 

These opponents to Medicare drug negotiations have said that the policy would inhibit research and innovation for new drugs and treatments. In the letter, the groups argue that the current system is already suppressing innovation through “yielding the development of high-cost, but clinically-marginal drugs.”

The letter points to the Food and Drug Administration’s controversial approval of the Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm as a “deeply troubling example” after several experts said there was limited evidence of its effectiveness. The drug is priced at $56,000 per year.

Tags Charles Schumer Chuck Schumer drug pricing FDA Food and Drug Administration Kevin McCarthy Medicare Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi prescription drug costs prescription drug pricing prescription drugs Ron Wyden

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