|WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today marked an important moment in the battle for affordable prescription drugs as oral arguments were presented in the case of AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP et al. v. Becerra et al.
This lawsuit from AstraZeneca – and eight other cases being heard in courts across the country – challenges Medicare’s hard-won ability to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for Americans, through the Inflation Reduction Act. To maintain their power to dictate prices to Americans, drug companies are attempting to use the court system to block negotiation, which is supported by more than 80 percent of voters. In this case, AstraZeneca is attempting to protect its ability to continue to dictate the price of its diabetes drug Farxiga. Unsurprisingly, the Judge in this case was highly skeptical of AstraZeneca’s argument.
Merith Basey, Executive Director of Patients For Affordable Drugs, issued the following statement:
“Today began the next phase in the fight to lower prescription drug prices, and the judge’s skepticism regarding the company’s claims during oral arguments comes as no surprise. As pharmaceutical corporations attempt to use the court system to safeguard their power to dictate prices to the American people, we are witnessing firsthand the extreme lengths to which big drug companies will go to protect their profits at the expense of patients. In 2022 alone, AstraZeneca reported nearly $4.4 billion in revenue from Farxiga. Yet AstraZeneca, like the other drug companies, clearly will employ any means necessary to block initiatives aimed at making drugs more affordable for those who need them.
“The U.S. is the only high-income nation that doesn’t negotiate prices with drug companies and the result is that we pay at least 3 to 4 times what other wealthy countries pay for the same brand name drugs. Medicare was never intended to serve as a blank check for Big Pharma’s insatiable greed. Patients For Affordable Drugs is unwavering in our commitment to thwart the pharmaceutical industry’s attempts to use the US legal system to undermine essential policies aimed at reducing drug costs and ensuring patients can access the medications they need at prices they can afford.”
If these lawsuits were to succeed and overturn the Inflation Reduction Act’s provisions for Medicare drug price negotiation, millions of Americans would be unable to afford the medications they need and taxpayers would miss out on the potential savings of close to $100 billion.
Patients For Affordable Drugs Now has thus far signed onto seven amicus briefs led by Public Citizen – including one in the case argued today – and supported by Protect Our Care, Doctors for America, and Families USA to support the government’s opposition and explain the harm high drug prices have on people on Medicare.
Background in Medicare negotiations:
- For the first time in history, Medicare has the authority to negotiate prices for certain high-cost drugs, breaking a nearly 20-year ban on utilizing its purchasing power to secure better deals for Americans.
- The Medicare negotiation provision was established through the Inflation Reduction Act to lower the cost of the most expensive prescription drugs, rather than continuing to allow drug companies to raise prices indefinitely at will.
- Unlike every other sector in health care where Medicare sets prices such as doctor fees, hospital costs, and equipment, pharmaceutical companies have been exempt from any form of negotiation. Pharmaceutical companies have the option to participate in Medicare voluntarily. They can accept slightly lower negotiated prices if they want to tap that huge market worth billions.
- The 10 drugs chosen for negotiation were identified as the top spending drugs covered under Medicare Part D without generic or biosimilar equivalents that have been on the market for at least seven years and also meet other selection criteria.
- AstraZeneca’s blockbuster drug, Farxiga, is one of the 10 drugs for negotiation under Medicare. It is used in treating diabetes, heart failure, and chronic kidney disease.
- Between June 2022 and May 2023, 8.3 million Medicare Part D enrollees used one or more of these medications.
- On Feb. 1 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will send its initial offer of a fair price for each of the 10 drugs. Negotiation will run through Aug. 1 and on Sept. 1 the maximum fair prices will be announced, according to CMS.