WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new report by Patients For Affordable Drugs (P4AD) released today unpacks the burden of high priced cancer drugs on patients and details the powerful, positive impact the Inflation Reduction Act will have in the coming years. The report includes new findings on the amount of money saved by traditional Medicare enrollees who take high-priced brand-name drugs, including seven blockbuster cancer medications. By highlighting stories of patients with cancer, the report reveals how the drug price provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act will bring lower costs, increased certainty, and peace of mind to millions of people on Medicare in the coming years.
“Cancer patients — the majority of whom are on Medicare — can face annual out-of-pocket costs of more than $16,500. Far too many are forced to choose between filling their prescription and bearing significant financial hardship, or abandoning the prescription and experiencing worsening health or even death,” said David Mitchell, a patient with incurable blood cancer whose drugs carry a list price of more than $900,000 per year and founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs. “The historic Inflation Reduction Act includes policies that will bring needed relief to millions of patients, especially older Americans with cancer. We’ve been waiting for this relief for far too long.”
P4AD partnered with the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago to examine the reach of the $2,000 out-of-pocket cap on traditional Medicare enrollees taking brand-name cancer drugs which will go into effect in 2025. The report also discusses the outrageous pricing histories of seven blockbuster cancer drugs — Ibrance, Imbruvica, Jakafi, Pomalyst, Revlimid, Sprycel, and Xtandi — and how those prices harm patients and cost taxpayers billions of dollars.
Because people living with cancer on Medicare are often subject to high out-of-pocket costs, the $2,000 out-of-pocket cap in the Inflation Reduction Act will provide particular relief and needed predictability in costs. The P4AD-NORC analysis focused on more than 60,000 people with traditional Medicare and excluded people with Medicare advantage, those receiving low-income subsidies, and people not continuously enrolled in Medicare. The analysis found:
- Out of the 61,968 people with traditional Medicare who get a brand-name cancer drug through Medicare Part D, 99% will experience savings from the $2,000 out-of-pocket cap.
- On average, this group of people on Medicare will save $7,590 annually, with some saving as much as $19,296.
- Of the blockbuster medications studied in this report, people who take Revlimid and Pomalyst will realize the greatest annual savings ($8,989 and $8,635 respectively).
Lynn Scarfuto, of Herkimer, New York, takes oral chemotherapy Imbruvica to treat her leukemia. The monthly list price for Imbruvica is currently over $17,000. With the Inflation Reduction Act, Lynn’s out-of-pocket costs will be capped at $2,000 starting in 2025.
“My inability to afford Imbruvica’s astronomical price once my assistance runs out would certainly expedite my death,” said Lynn, who currently relies on grant programs to afford her medication. “Knowing that even if I lost my grant, my portion of my drug’s price would be limited to $2,000 annually would allow me to continue on the medication responsible for keeping me alive.”
The report notes that while the Inflation Reduction Act is historic in curbing annual price increases and bringing down the prices of certain costly drugs, more reforms are needed to continue to ensure that everyone can afford their medications — specifically, we need legislation that cracks down on monopoly abuses of the patent and regulatory system.