Politico: Biden admin backs direct government drug price negotiations

A new Biden administration plan aimed at lowering prescription drug prices endorses giving the government sweeping power to directly negotiate the cost of medicines, calling it one of the key steps Congress could take to make drugs “more affordable and equitable” for all Americans.

The plan — developed by the Department of Health and Human Services and released on Thursday — largely backs Democrats’ ongoing efforts to lower drug prices as part of a $3.5 trillion reconciliation proposal, and mirrors a range of legislative options that both House and Senate lawmakers have floated in recent years.

Those include capping out-of-pocket costs in Medicare Part D, limiting how quickly pharmaceutical companies can hike prices on existing drugs and banning so-called pay-for-delay agreements aimed at blocking generic competition to brand-name drugs.

But the HHS report’s embrace of broad price negotiation is the administration’s latest signal that it’s siding with progressives who have pushed for a far more aggressive approach to slashing pharmaceutical costs.

Under the HHS plan, the government would directly negotiate prices for drugs in Medicare parts B and D, with those prices also being available to private insurance plans and any employers who want to participate.

House Democrats passed a similar provision as part of a major drug pricing bill in 2019. But it never made it into law, and some in the party’s centrist wing have since vowed to oppose drug price negotiation.

Notably, the plan stops short of supporting the use of “march-in rights” that progressives argue empower the government to pull patent rights from a drug that is deemed too expensive. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has long advocated for the approach, and urged HHS to utilize it in an August letter with Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Lloyd Doggett.

“The Biden Administration has the opportunity to lower the prices of key drugs using these authorities,” the lawmakers wrote to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.

The department in its report acknowledged that it has been petitioned to use march-in rights, saying only that it would give them “due consideration.”

Read the full story here.

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News Credit

Author: Adam Cancryn

Publisher: Politico

Date: Sept. 9, 2021

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