The Biden administration said Tuesday that the manufacturers of all of the first 10 prescription drugs it selected for Medicare's first price negotiations have agreed to participate, clearing the way for talks that could lower their costs in coming years and giving the White House a potential political win heading into next year's presidential election.
The drugs include the blood thinner Eliquis, which the White House said was used by more than 3.7 million Medicare enrollees from June of last year through this past May and had an average out-of-pocket cost of $608 per enrollee for 2022. Also included is diabetes treatment Jardiance, which was used by nearly 1.6 million Medicare enrollees and had a 2022 out-of-pocket cost per enrollee of $490.
In all last year, 9 million seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries paid more than $3.4 billion on these 10 drugs alone, the White House said.
How much prices could fall is not yet known. Prices negotiated for the first set of drugs participating won't go into effect until 2026.
Still, promises to lower prescription drug costs are a key part of Biden’s reelection pitch to voters — even as the Democratic president has so far struggled to convince the public that his administration’s policies have lowered health care expenses and cut other everyday costs. In announcing that price negotiations will go forward, the White House noted that the program was created under the Inflation Reduction Act, which Congress passed last year without any Republican support, and that Big Pharma has continued to work to stop Medicare from haggling with pharmaceutical companies.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced in August the first 10 drugs selected for the negotiation process and said manufacturers had until Monday to agree to participate and submit manufacturer-specific data.
Even with Tuesday's announcement, the process could still be complicated by lawsuits from drugmakers and sharp criticism from Republicans. The White House noted that the drug manufacturers' agreeing to participate followed a decision by a federal court in Ohio allowing Medicare price negotiation plans to move forward.
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