House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will hold a closed-door meeting in Seattle on Tuesday about lowering the cost of sky-high prescription drug prices, three weeks after she unveiled a sweeping proposal to reduce drug costs.
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Under Pelosi’s plan, which she unveiled at the end of September, Medicare would be allowed to negotiate lower prices on as many as 250 of the most expensive drugs each year, including insulin. Any pharmaceutical company that refused to negotiate could face a steep penalty, starting at 65 percent of the gross sales of the drug in question.
The California Democrat also called for a new $2,000, out-.of-pocket limit on prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries in the plan, which would likely face fierce opposition from both Republicans and the pharmaceutical industry. (Although President Trump made lowering drug prices a key part of his 2016 campaign, Senate Republicans warned that her plan is “dead on arrival” and will not be considered in the upper chamber).
“Prescription drug prices are out of control,” Pelosi wrote in the proposal. “Big pharmaceutical companies are charging Americans prices that are three, four, or even ten times higher than what they charge for the same drugs in other countries – even though they admit they still make a profit overseas.”
According to a new report from the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review released on Tuesday, combined price hikes from seven drugs, in 2017 and 2018, contributed to a $5.1 billion increase in U.S. spending. None of those drugs had new important evidence to support the price increase, the study concluded.
AbbVie Inc’s rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira accounted for the biggest increase in drug spending in the U.S. between 2017 and 2018 with a 15.9 percent jump over this period. Ultimately, the drug cost patients and insurers an additional $1.86 billion more than it would have prior to the price jump.
Other top treatments by spending included Roche Holding AG’s cancer drug Rituxan, Pfizer Inc’s pain drug Lyrica, Gilead Sciences Inc’s HIV drug Truvada, Amgen Inc’s white blood cell booster Neulasta, Eli Lilly & Co’s erectile dysfunction drug Cialis and Biogen Inc’s multiple sclerosis treatment Tecfidera.
“The norm in the United States has been for most pharmaceutical manufacturers to increase prices year after year — even accounting for the discounts they give insurers, and even for drugs that already sit at the top of the chart of spending for drugs in the US,” David Rind, a physician and ICER’s chief medical officer, said in a statement.