WASHINGTON — The popular diabetes treatment Jardiance and the blood thinner Eliquis are among the first drugs that will be targeted for price negotiations in effort to cut Medicare costs.
President Joe Biden’s administration on Tuesday released a list of 10 drugs for which the federal government will take a first-ever step: negotiating drug prices directly with the manufacturer.
The move is expected to cut costs for some patients but faces litigation from the drugmakers and heavy criticism from Republican lawmakers. It’s also a centerpiece of the Democratic president’s reelection pitch as he seeks a second term in office by touting his work to lower costs for Americans at a time when the country has struggled with inflation.
The diabetes treatment Jardiance from Eli Lilly and Co. is on the list with Amgen’s autoimmune disease treatment Enbrel. Other drugs include Entresto from Novartis, which is used to treat heart failure.
Medicare spent about $10 billion in 2020 on Eliquis, according to AARP research. It treats blood clots in the legs and lungs and reduces the risk of stroke in people with an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation.
Biden plans to deliver a speech on health care costs from the White House after the announcement. He’ll be joined by Vice President Kamala Harris.
More than 52 million people who either are 65 or older or have certain severe disabilities or illnesses get prescription drug coverage through Medicare’s Part D program, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS.
About 9% of Medicare beneficiaries age 65 and older said in 2021 that they did not fill a prescription or skipped a drug dose due to cost, according to research by the Commonwealth Fund, which studies health care issues.
CMS aims to negotiate the lowest maximum fair price for drugs on the list released Tuesday. That could help some patients who have coverage but still face big bills like high deductible payments when they get a prescription.
Currently, pharmacy benefit managers that run Medicare prescription plans negotiate rebates off a drug’s price. Those rebates sometimes help reduce premiums customers pay for coverage. But they may not change what a patient spends at the pharmacy counter.
The new drug price negotiations aim “to basically make drugs more affordable while also still allowing for profits to be made,” said Gretchen Jacobson, who researches Medicare issues at Commonwealth.
Drug companies that refuse to be a part of the new negotiation process will be heavily taxed.
The pharmaceutical industry has been gearing up for months to fight these rules. Already, the plan faces several lawsuits, including complaints filed by drugmakers Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb and a key lobbying group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA.
Murphy reported from Indianapolis.