If Medicare Was Allowed To Negotiate Drug Prices Like Other Agencies, It Could Save $2.8 Billion In A Single Year
Medicare currently isn't allowed to negotiate drug prices, but analysts looked at agencies that can -- like the Department of Veterans Affairs -- and crunched some numbers. As drug prices continue to rise, officials scramble to find ways to curb the cost hikes. Meanwhile, Medicare beneficiaries will pay lower premiums on their prescription drug plans next year.
Medicare Could Save $2.8 Billion In A Single Year If Prices Could Be Negotiated
By allowing the federal government to negotiate with drug makers, Medicare and its beneficiaries could save an estimated $2.8 billion in a single year for the top 20 most commonly prescribed medicines, according to a new analysis by Democrats on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. In crunching the numbers, the committee staff found that other government agencies that are permitted to negotiate with drug companies — such as the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense — were able to secure pricing that rose at “significantly lower rates” than wholesale prices for the most widely prescribed brand-name drugs in Medicare Part D. (Silverman, 8/1)
Medicare Part D Premiums To Fall Next Year
Medicare beneficiaries will pay slightly lower premiums next year for their prescription drug plans, according to the CMS. Medicare Part D premiums are expected to fall from $33.59 this year to $32.50 next year. The Trump administration credited the 3.2% decrease to its moves to lower drug prices. "The actions that HHS and CMS are taking to increase competition in order to drive down costs for patients are working," CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement. (Dickson, 8/1)
In other pharmaceutical news —
Icahn Opposes Cigna-Express Deal, Fearing Amazon's Drug Foray
Ativist investor Carl Icahn has built a sizable stake in Cigna Corp. and plans to oppose the health insurer’s $54 billion takeover of pharmacy-benefits firm Express Scripts Holding Co., according to people familiar with the matter. Chief among Icahn’s concerns is that Amazon.com Inc.’s entrance into the prescription-drug industry could threaten Express Scripts’s business there over time, said the people. The size of the billionaire’s stake is somewhere below the 5 percent threshold that would require him to disclose it, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. (Deveau, Tracer and Langreth, 8/1)
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb Has Issued How Many Statements?
Say what you will about Scott Gottlieb, but the Food and Drug Administration commissioner is nothing if not loquacious. Since assuming the job last year, he has become notable not only for his plain-spoken remarks and helping the Trump administration focus on drug costs, but also for issuing a steady stream of communiques. How many? In the first half of 2018, he released 53 so-called commissioner statements, versus just four during the comparable period a year earlier. These were among 72 general announcements, up from only seven that were released during the same time frame in 2017, according to a tally by Mark Senak, a senior vice president and partner at the FleishmanHillard public relations firm who writes the Eye on FDA blog. (Silverman, 8/1)