WASHINGTON, DC — President Donald Trump, Senator Bernie Sanders, and Americans across the country all agree: the federal government should negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs. In support of that common-sense idea, Patients for Affordable Drugs released a new digital ad to push for policy changes that let Medicare negotiate for lower drug prices. Also today, Patients For Affordable Drugs endorsed new legislation by Rep. Lloyd Doggett, to allow the HHS secretary to negotiate directly with drug manufacturers instead of relying on pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).
“Current law is based on the idea that middlemen called PBMs can do a better job negotiating lower drug prices than the government,” said David Mitchell, a cancer patient, Medicare beneficiary, and President of Patients For Affordable Drugs. “If that were true, Americans would not be paying two to three times what people in other countries with direct negotiations pay. It’s time to change the law.”
Secretary Alex Azar testified on two recent occasions that PBMs –– who are empowered by law to negotiate the best prices –– are standing in the way of lower drug prices. Azar told Congress that is because the middlemen “make their money on getting a high list price” or tell drug manufacturers to “not decrease your price.”
The new digital ad highlights comments by President Trump and Senator Bernie Sanders to show that there is wide bipartisan support for the government directly negotiating with drug manufacturers instead of relying on pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) who benefit from higher list prices. Across the country, 92% of Americans favor allowing the government to negotiate with drug corporations to get a lower price on medications for people on Medicare.
Legislation introduced today, the Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act, would allow direct negotiations and give Medicare new tools to negotiate effectively while maintaining patient choice and ensuring fair compensation for drug corporations.
“It’s time to reject the myth that PBMs get us better deals –– they don’t,” Mitchell said. “We need direct Medicare price negotiations now.”
Patients For Affordable Drugs advocate and Parkinson’s patient Stahis Panagides of Bethesda, Maryland cannot afford to take the cutting-edge Parkinson’s medication, Rytary, even though it could help to mitigate the effects of his disease. He spoke at a press conference today saying, “When I learned that Rytary would cost me $400 plus per month –– close to $5,000 yearly –– I was shocked. I had to reject it immediately simply because I could not afford it.”