Drug Pricing and Affordable Insulin Issues Take Precedence

Action on drug pricing and access to affordable insulin has heated up in Congress as part of the consideration of a large budget reconciliation process.

The Endocrine Society has been a leading advocate urging the Biden Administration and Congress to take action on drug pricing and has offered several policy recommendations, including allowing the government to negotiate drug prices. It was expected that drug pricing legislation would be incorporated into a larger piece of legislation that the Senate could pass through the reconciliation process – a process that allows the Senate to pass legislation as part of the federal budget process with a simple majority rather than the usually required 60 votes.

Throughout this year we have met with administration officials and congressional offices, conducted briefings for congressional staff on insulin pricing, shared our position statement, and offered resources.

Before the Senate left town for its August recess, it took a big step closer to this by passing a budget resolution with instructions to the Senate Finance Committee to “reduce prescription drug costs for patients and save taxpayers hundreds of billions.” That was immediately followed by President Joe Biden formally calling on Congress to lower prescription drug prices.

Specifically, the president’s plan includes:

  • Allowing Medicare to Negotiate Drug Prices. President Biden believes Medicare should be able to negotiate the price for a subset of expensive drugs that do not face any competition in the market. Medicare negotiators would be provided a framework for what constitutes a fair price for each drug, and there would be powerful incentives to make sure drug companies agree to a reasonable price.
  • Making Other Needed Reforms to Lower Prices. President Biden would require that drug companies that raise their prices faster than inflation would have to pay a penalty. He would also like to establish a cap on the amount that Medicare beneficiaries have to pay out-of-pocket for drugs each year.
  • Building on Existing Progress to Lower the Cost of Prescription Drugs. President Biden would like to work with states and tribes to import safe, lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada and accelerate the development and uptake of generic and biosimilar drugs that give patients the same exact clinical benefit but at a fraction of the price.

Throughout this year we have met with administration officials and congressional offices, conducted briefings for congressional staff on insulin pricing, shared our position statement, and offered resources. It is great to begin to see this advocacy in action take flight. We will keep you apprised of further developments and ways you can share our advocacy messages with your representative and senators.

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