On Tuesday, the Biden administration announced that all prescription drug manufacturers representing the 10 medications selected for negotiation through Medicare under a newly enacted policy have agreed to take part in the process, which should formally begin early next year.
“Today I can announce that the manufacturers of ten drugs are coming to the negotiating table to lower prices,” President Joe Biden said in a statement. “They’re taking steps to participate in the negotiating program so we can give seniors the best possible deal.”
The 10 medications that were initially announced for negotiation last month account for 20 percent of Medicare Part D prescription costs. Four of the drugs are related to the treatment of diabetes, with the remainder treating ailments such as heart failure, psoriasis and arthritis, blood cancer, Crohn’s disease, and more.
More medications will be negotiated in the future, the administration said, and around 60 medications will be part of the program over the next four years.
Negotiation on prescription drug prices through Medicare was passed last year as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. Most Americans support the government having the ability to negotiate the costs of medication; a recent poll found that 76 percent back the idea, while only 6 percent said they opposed it.
Drug companies had until the start of this month to decide whether they’d take part in negotiations. While the companies involved in producing the drugs said they would cooperate with the process, many are still suing the administration, arguing that the policy is a violation of their constitutional rights.
However, the announcement from the White House comes just days after a federal judge in Ohio expressed skepticism of those claims. U.S. District Court Judge Michael Newman, a Trump administration appointee, refused a request from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last week to place an injunction on the provision.
Newman appeared to disagree with the chamber’s arguments that the negotiation process interfered with a Fifth Amendment right to due process, as the judge noted there is no constitutional right to do business with the federal government. “Any economic harm — which, on its own, is insufficient to satisfy this prong of a preliminary injunction analysis — will not occur for years in the future,” Newman recognized.
The judge also said that the chamber “demonstrated neither a strong likelihood of success” in the lawsuit, “nor irreparable harm” from the law.
Advocates for fairer medication pricing lauded the initial ruling from Newman.
“This is the first major blow to Big Pharma in its legal battles to block the drug price negotiation provisions under the Inflation Reduction Act,” Peter Maybarduk, director of the Access to Medicines program at Public Citizen, said in a statement following the denial of the injunction request.
The negotiation process, however, will take some time. Negotiations won’t formally begin until February 2024 — and even after that, new drug prices won’t be implemented until 2026 at the earliest, assuming that none of the ongoing lawsuits delay the process in the meantime.
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