CMS announced the largest Part B premium hike in 15 years in November, citing the high cost of Biogen’s Aduhelm as a major contributing factor. Advocates and members of Congress have been urging Secretary Becerra to readdress the issue following Biogen’s price cut, from $56,000 to $28,000, and after the NCD was announced in January. Becerra recently told reporters that CMS will readdress the premium increase, but no earlier than the final NCD decision is announced on April 11. To read more, click here.
Throughout the hearing Democrats and Republicans focused their debates on Medicare negotiation. Democrats argued that negotiation is the only way to ensure manufacturers do not take advantage of patients. Republicans equated Medicare negotiation to price controls and focused on the need to address patent gaming while supporting innovation. Senator Grassley (R-IA) notably called upon Democrats to work with Republicans to pass drug pricing reform now; he opined that it is unlikely to pass a plan to lower prescription drugs if Republicans regain control of the Senate. To watch the hearing, click here.
While many of the bills up for debate were bipartisan, the majority of the hearing focused on accelerated approval reform, specifically Chairman Pallone’s Accelerating Access for Patients Act (HR 6996). The bill would give the FDA more authority to swiftly withdraw drugs from market that have not complied with timely post-approval studies. Republicans argued that Pallone’s bill would reduce access to current and future cures for aggressive diseases, such as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. To read the testimonies, click here.
The trade group responded to the lawmakers explaining that they do not possess their members’ confidential pricing strategies and went on to say that the analyses the initial letter cited used flawed data. The lawmakers responded to PhRMA once more to state that PhRMA’s evasive response goes to show that there “is no good explanation for drug manufacturers’ behavior other than corporate profiteering.” To read PhRMA’s letter and the lawmakers’ response, click here and here, respectively.