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Medicare negotiation: Which 10 drugs will Biden govt discuss with pharma industry first?

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US President Joe Biden delivers remarks at a reception to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the founding of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on August 28, 2023.—AFP
US President Joe Biden delivers remarks at a reception to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the founding of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on August 28, 2023.—AFP 

The Biden administration has released a list of 10 prescription drugs that will be subject to the first-ever price negotiations by the US Medicare health program.

The list includes:

  • Eliquis, a blood thinner from Bristol Myers Squibb and Pfizer
  • Xarelto, another blood thinner from Johnson & Johnson
  • Imbruvica, a leukemia treatment from AbbVie
  • Januvia, a diabetes drug from Merck
  • Enbrel, a rheumatoid arthritis drug from Amgen
  • Jardiance, a diabetes drug from Boehringer Ingelheim and Eli Lilly
  • Stelara, a drug for arthritis and Crohn’s disease from Johnson & Johnson
  • Insulin Aspart, a type of insulin from Novo Nordisk
  • Rituxan, a cancer treatment from Genentech
  • Herceptin, a cancer treatment from Roche
  • Avastin, a cancer treatment from Genentech

The negotiations are set to begin in 2026, with new prices taking effect in 2028. The goal is to save Medicare $25 billion per year on drug prices by 2031.

Drugmakers whose medicines are on the list have criticized the price-setting provisions, saying they will stifle innovation and impact the quality of care. They have also sued the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in an effort to derail the process.

The Biden administration has defended the price-setting provisions, saying they are necessary to bring down the high cost of prescription drugs in the United States. 

The negotiations are expected to be complex and challenging. The drugmakers are likely to argue that the government is setting prices too low, while the government is likely to argue that the drugmakers are charging too much. 

In addition to the 10 drugs on the list, the Biden administration has also said that it plans to negotiate prices for other high-cost drugs in the future. This could include drugs for cancer, heart disease, and other serious illnesses.

The negotiations are part of a broader effort by the Biden administration to lower the cost of prescription drugs in the United States. The administration has also proposed legislation that would allow Medicare to negotiate prices for all prescription drugs.

The negotiations and the proposed legislation are likely to face strong opposition from the pharmaceutical industry. However, the Biden administration is determined to take action to lower the cost of prescription drugs for Americans.

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