Promising Signs of Progress on Drug Costs


Congress is making “quiet progress” on lowering drug costs for patients, say pharmaceutical policy experts Kristi Martin and Jeremy Sharp of Waxman Strategies.

In their new post on To the Point, Martin and Sharp explain how legislation currently moving through Congress could help to lower drug costs for patients by targeting drug company strategies designed to stifle or delay competition. Bills passed by the House and Senate, for example, would end gag clauses that prevent pharmacists from telling patients that they can save money on medications by paying for them out of pocket. Other legislation focuses on “pay for delay” agreements that allow brand-name manufacturers to keep prices higher by compensating generic manufacturers for delaying their products from coming to market.

The authors also discuss moves to inject more competition into the burgeoning market for biologic drugs — many of which have revolutionized treatment of cancer, autoimmune diseases, and other conditions — by eliminating delays in selling “biosimilar” drugs. Making biosimilars more widely available could save $54 billion to $250 billion in drug costs over 10 years, they say.

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