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Joe Biden says all 10 selected drugmakers will participate in Medicare price negotiations


The primary manufacturers of all 10 drugs targeted by President Biden as too costly will participate in the first-ever round of Medicare price negotiations, the White House said Tuesday.

Drugmakers had until the start of October to decide whether they would participate in the negotiation program established by Mr. Biden’s signature tax and climate legislation in 2022. The companies likely felt they had no choice, as the alternative would be to pull out of Medicare.

“They’re taking steps to participate in the negotiating program so we can give seniors the best possible deal,” Mr. Biden said.

The White House said makers of some of the costliest and most commonly used prescription drugs for arthritis, diabetes, Crohn’s disease and cancer agreed to participate in negotiations after a legal challenge fell short last week.

U.S. District Judge Michael Newman of the Southern District of Ohio, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, denied the preliminary injunction sought by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce against the program.

The plaintiffs “have demonstrated neither a strong likelihood of success nor irreparable harm,” Judge Newman wrote.

He did not dismiss the case entirely, and other lawsuits are wending their way through the courts.

The pharmaceutical industry and many congressional Republicans say the Medicare negotiation program amounts to government price-setting and will make it harder to discover new cures.

Mr. Biden and his allies say allowing Medicare to negotiate down the price of drugs is a commonsense way to put patients over profits.

Millions of seniors on Medicare take the selected drugs, which have limited competition and drive a large share of federal spending in the prescription drug benefit program known as Part D.

Under the program, the first round of negotiated prices will take effect in 2026. Pricing talks will occur this year and into next year, with the final prices published in the fall of 2024 — right before the presidential election.

Additional drugs from Medicare Part D and the doctor-administered Part B program will be selected in subsequent years.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the drug-negotiation program will save taxpayers $100 billion through 2031 while modestly curtailing the share of new drugs coming to market by around 1%.

Promoters of the program say it will reduce seniors’ out-of-pocket costs and could spill over into negotiations between employer plans and drugmakers, though it is unclear if that will happen.

The drugs selected in the first round were Eliquis by Bristol Myers Squibb, Jardiance by Boehringer Ingelheim, Xarelto by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Januvia by Merck, Farxiga by AstraZeneca, Entresto by Novartis; Enbrel by Immunex Corp., Imbruvica by Pharmacyclics LLC, Stelara by Janssen Biotech and a series of insulins made by Novo Nordisk: Fiasp, Fiasp FlexTouch, Fiasp Penfill, NovoLog, NovoLog FlexPen and NovoLog Penfill.

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