Biden and the Democrats finally implemented something that’s been debated for decades — letting Medicare negotiate down the price of drugs.
Now Big Pharma is suing, calling it extortion.
But they make billions charging Americans 3x what they charge in other countries.
A long time coming
For the first time ever, the government will negotiate the price Medicare pays for for high-cost prescription drugs. This has been a conversation since the 1960s, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare into law after trying unsuccessfully to include prescription drugs in negotiations.
Now it’s finally happening.
“Medicare is a price-taker where, what drug companies want to charge us, is what we pay for that drug,” CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure told More Perfect Union. “And that is not sustainable for people who need these drugs and it’s not sustainable for the program.”
Who needs these drugs?
Millions of Americans rely on the drugs that will be covered in these negotiations. That includes those living with diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
“So when you think about, ‘Who are we talking about?’ We’re talking about your mother who has diabetes. We’re talking about your uncle who has a blood cancer,” LaSure said. “And [with] so many of these conditions, these people are taking multiple drugs.”
Fighting Big Pharma
Of course, the industry is panicking over this announcement. The federal government is facing lawsuits from some of the biggest players in pharmaceuticals: AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson Johnson, Astellas, Boehringer, Ingelheim, PhRMA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
They call the price negotiations extortion.
Biden Senior Adviser Anita Dunn says while she appreciates the innovations that come from the pharmaceutical industry, the government needs to be able to negotiate for better prices for consumers.
“This is this is an industry where the largest companies make, what, $38 billion in profits last year. They’re making plenty of money. They just are,” Dunn told More Perfect Union. “There’s no reason the federal government should continue to basically subsidize at such enormous levels their profits.”