Medicare Cutting Price of 64 Drugs That Outpaced Inflation

(Bloomberg) -- Some of America’s seniors will see their out of pocket costs fall for more than five dozen drugs — including treatments for osteoporosis and cancer — as part of the White House’s crackdown on rising pharmaceutical prices.

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The savings will apply to 64 drugs administered in doctor’s offices and hospitals — between the start of July and the end of September. Seniors and those with disabilities who’ve met their annual deductible will see a lower coinsurance rate on these prescriptions.The new drugs were selected because their prices increased beyond the rate of inflation.

Wednesday’s announcement is the latest iteration of a rolling program to address the speed at which drug prices are rising by using tools in President Joe Biden’s signature Inflation Reduction Act. The White House said that more than three quarters of a million Americans enrolled in Medicare, the government’s health program for the elderly, take drugs whose costs have outpaced inflation annually.

The administration did not reveal the drugs on this list ahead of the announcement. The White House gave an example of someone on Medicare prescribed the cancer drug Padcev, made by Pfizer Inc. and Astellas Pharma Inc., explaining that over the year ending March 31, that person may have saved nearly $1,200 with the program.

White House Domestic Policy Advisor Neera Tanden will announce the cost savings at an event Wednesday morning at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank that she ran before joining the Biden Administration.

“Everyone should be able to afford their medication, and the Inflation Reduction Act continues to deliver on this goal to improve affordability,” said Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “Discouraging drug companies from price increases above the rate of inflation is a key part of this effort.”

Still, the overall impact of the price bargaining tools in the Inflation Reduction Act are limited. The bill applies solely to Medicare — which covers only around 20% of the country — and there are limits on what drugs can be subject to bargaining.

The administration forecasts the effort will save taxpayers an estimated $237 billion over the next decade. And Biden has made expanding the government’s price negotiating powers a key plank of his platform as he seeks reelection in November.

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