Medicare will negotiate prices for ten costly drugs

Published: Sep. 5, 2023 at 5:07 AM CDT
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QUINCY (WGEM) - Some seniors have had to make tough choices between their medication and other necessities.

Under a new policy announced last week, Medicare will negotiate the price of ten of the most costly prescription drugs on the market with manufacturers.

Rob Ritchey, the Administrative Director of Pharmacy with Blessing said drug prices are based on how much money the government pays for the medication. He said last year the government spent $50 billion on prescription drugs.

The medications up for negotiation include:

  • Eliquis, a blood thinner
  • Xarelto, a blood thinner
  • Januvia, a diabetes drug
  • Jardiance, a diabetes drug
  • Enbrel, a rheumatoid arthritis drug
  • Imbruvica, a drug for blood cancers
  • Farxiga, a drug for diabetes, heart failure and chronic kidney disease
  • Entresto, a heart failure drug
  • Stelara, a drug for psoriasis and Crohn’s disease
  • Fiasp and NovoLog, for diabetes

Mary Crawford, the West Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging Grant and Program Manager said seniors commonly use the drugs on the list, and those drugs really eat away at their budgets. She said its an important first step to have Medicare play a role in negotiating drug prices. She said for seniors who need assistance, programs to help them pay for their medication exist.

“Ultimately it’s up to the person and their healthcare provider to determine the best course of treatment doctors generally are very good about being aware of financial assistance programs and they whenever possible, try to help guide people towards those, but unfortunately at the end of the day there are people who bear the brunt of those costs directly out of pocket,” Crawford said.

Ritchey said the price seniors on Medicare pay varies based on the plan they sign up for when they enroll. He said the government wants to compare prices on what they pay to help make it cheaper for those on Medicare.

“Overall the price of the drugs will go lower, so Medicare will pay less money for the drugs in the long run. Hopefully reducing that overall cost to everyone for Medicare,” Ritchey said.

The agreed-upon prices for the first round of drugs would go into effect in 2026. As part of the plan, seniors will see a cap on out of pocket spending.

Crawford said the current steps the federal government has taken; such as capping the price of insulin and will soon expand the extra help benefits which will reduce what people pay for premiums, deductibles, and co-pays.

She says steps like these make her hopeful for other actions down the road.

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