White House Asks Drugmakers To Pay Inflation Rebates Back

Pharma companies in the US have come under fire yet again from the White House. This is the second time in two weeks that such a scenario has taken place. The Biden administration announced that several of drugmakers would be asked to pay inflation rebates to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services because of price gouging.

It is well to be noted that, as per the agency’s announcement, under the Inflation Reduction Act- IRA, CMS has finalized a list of 48 Medicare Part B drugs that have increased their prices faster than inflation and thereby may go through inflation rebates in the first quarter of 2024.

The White House opines that the IRA will go on to save some seniors who take the 48 Medicare Part B drugs from their yet undisclosed list, an amount of almost $2,786 on an average dose.

CMS went on to state in its press release that it is going to issue invoices for the rebates for the drug companies that happen to be involved beginning in 2025, which will also include the years 2022, 2023, and 2024.

Apparently, the White House press release named Signifor, which happens to be an endocrine disorder drug manufactured by Novartis, for a price surge that’s faster than inflation every 3 months since the IRA passed into law in August 2022.

As per the Biden Administration, some Medicare beneficiaries who go on to take Signifor could save themselves $311 every monthly dose starting in January due to the law.

It was only last week that the White House went on to announce its intention to put into place the march-in rights so as to take back patents on expensive medications, the research of which completely relied on federal funds. Although the use of march-in rights does not happen to be widespread, Xavier Becerra, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, went on to state that it happens to be a powerful tool so as to help make sure that the benefits of the American taxpayer’s investment when it comes to R&D happen to be reasonably accessible to the public.

HHS on December 14 went on to announce that the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response- ASPR happens to be making fair pricing one of the standard parts when it comes to contract negotiations with regards to medical products.

It is well worth noting that in September this year, ASPR went on to finalize a Project NextGen contract, which was a government initiative in order to advance new vaccines as well as therapeutics faster and that too at a lower cost, which was inked by Regeneron, thereby agreeing that if a pharmaceutical’s COVID-19 treatment gets commercialized, its listing price in the U.S. will be either equivalent to or less than the retail price as compared to the global markets.

Notably, the same style of language has also been added across agreements for some other vaccine developers, such as Codagenix, CastleVax, as well as Gritstone Bio, which happen to be the first three vaccines selected for development with Project NextGen, as per the Biden administration.

It is well to be noted that the pharma companies have been fighting the IRA’s Drug Price Negotiation Program in the court of law with lawsuits that claim that the Medicare negotiations happen to be unconstitutional. According to them, they will force companies to sell at lower-than-market value and, at the same time, threaten R&D in the future for new as well as innovative medicines.

But as of October 2023, all 10 pharma companies whose products happen to be selected in the first round of Medicare price negotiations have gone on to participate in the talks under the IRA.