Second Opinion: Big Pharma's Back At It

If at first you don’t succeed try, try again.  That’s the old adage Big Pharma is sticking with this month in a last-ditch effort to make more money on the backs of patients and taxpayers.

Here’s a quick backstory:

  • Earlier this year, Congress took significant steps in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (BBA) to lower prescription drug costs by requiring pharmaceutical companies to offer deeper discounts on expensive drugs for seniors in the Medicare Part D coverage gap or the “donut hole.” 
  • In September, Big Pharma tried to reverse the progress made under the BBA to protect their bottom line.  Trying to exploit legislation that was intended to combat the opioid crisis – a crisis pharmaceutical companies helped create – Big Pharma lobbied Members of Congress to include a policy that would dole out an $8.5 billion-dollar bailout to price-gouging drug manufacturers at the expense of patients and taxpayers.
  • Now, Big Pharma is taking one last shot during the lame duck session to undo these provisions before they go into effect.  Big Pharma claims reversing the provisions would reduce out-of-pocket costs for seniors but, in reality, it would do the complete opposite.

A look at a new report from Oliver Wyman on the Medicare Part D Donut Hole breaks down how Big Pharma’s $8.5 billion bailout will actually affect patients and taxpayers:

  • Seniors will pay $4.05 billion in additional premiums and out-of-pocket costs.
  • Taxpayers will pay an additional $4.45 billion for covering drugs in the Part D program. 

Here’s another way to think about it, according to the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, the auto bailout ultimately cost American taxpayers $9.3 billion.  A Big Pharma bailout at $8.5 billion comes in pretty close.

At a time when one in four Americans can’t afford their medication – often having to choose between paying their rent or paying for life-saving drugs – the last thing Big Pharma deserves is a bailout.

BOTTOM LINE: If Big Pharma receives this multi-billion-dollar windfall, price-gouging drug manufacturers win and patients lose.

That’s why CSRxP sent a letter to congressional leadership in November urging them to preserve the actions Congress took in the BBA of 2018 and protect seniors and taxpayers from out-of-control drug prices during the lame duck session.

Big Pharma cannot be trusted to do the right thing.  It’s up to Congress to hold the pharmaceutical industry to account.