Politics: Democrats are on a dangerous path with drug pricing

A play-by-play of how the Trump and Biden administrations handled their septuagenarian commander-in-chiefs getting sick with COVID

  A play-by-play of how the Trump and Biden administrations handled their septuagenarian commander-in-chiefs getting sick with COVID Biden's illness with COVID looked vastly different than Trump's, but the two did share some similarities in how they communicated with the public.Even so, experience suggests the two political foes won't be calling each other to compare notes on symptoms, governing, or Netflix binge-watching.

The passage of Democrats’ sweeping economic package — which is designed to combat climate change, address health care costs and reduce the deficit by raising taxes on corporations — is a major win for President Biden’s agenda.

  Democrats are on a dangerous path with drug pricing © Provided by The Hill

Further, Democrats’ push to pass a $35 insulin cap for non-Medicare patients was the right move both practically and politically — even though it was ultimately unsuccessful — as they forced Republicans to either side with them or to go on record voting against a policy that would cut costs for millions of Americans with diabetes.

Democrats’ final legislation makes a historic investment in clean energy, which will help the U.S. cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030. It also extends expanded subsidies under the Affordable Care Act and realizes the party’s long-sought goal of allowing Medicare to “negotiate” prescription drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies.

Joe Manchin wrecked Biden's economic agenda last year. He ended up saving a lot of it in the last month.

  Joe Manchin wrecked Biden's economic agenda last year. He ended up saving a lot of it in the last month. Manchin signed onto the largest climate bill that Congress ever put together after blocking the Democratic agenda for months.That quip from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez of New York in early March summed up the depth of Democratic frustration with perhaps its most stubborn member: Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. As winter turned to spring, Democrats were rudderless. Their economic agenda was shattered and they hadn't truly begun sorting through the wreckage of their Build Back Better plan. Russian troops pouring into Ukraine sent gas prices soaring, compounding their political problems.

Proponents claim that enabling Medicare to negotiate prices will lower the cost of prescription drugs for the nearly 64 million Americans who are currently on Medicare, and more specifically for the 1.4 million beneficiaries who spend more than $2,000 per year on their medications.

Regrettably, this is a misguided assessment that fails to consider how this policy will actually decrease both the affordability and accessibility of prescription drugs in the long run.

Democrats’ drug pricing policy won’t improve the problem that it is designed to address — making prescription drugs more affordable for Medicare beneficiaries — and it will end up limiting Medicare patients’ access to certain medications. Moreover, it will discourage pharmaceutical innovation, and worst of all will drive costs up for the 220 million Americans with private insurance.

FDA chief's long-promised opioid review faces skepticism

  FDA chief's long-promised opioid review faces skepticism WASHINGTON (AP) — As U.S. opioid deaths mounted in 2016, the incoming head of the Food and Drug Administration promised a “sweeping review” of prescription painkillers in hopes of reversing the worst overdose epidemic in American history. Dr. Robert Califf even personally commissioned a report from the nation’s top medical advisers that recommended reforms, including potentially removing some drugs from the market. But six years later, opioids are claiming more lives than ever, and the FDA has not pulled a single drug from pharmacy shelves since the report's publication. In fact, the agency continues putting new painkillers on the market — six in the last five years.

Indeed, this policy will raise drug costs and health care premiums for the 220 million Americans with private health insurance. If drugmakers are forced to give Medicare significant discounts on certain drugs, these companies will make up for this lost revenue by raising prices in the commercial market, as “The Wall Street Journal’s” Editorial Board argued in their column earlier this week.

If hundreds of millions of Americans with private insurance are paying more for their medications — as well as for their hospital and physician services — Democrats’ “Inflation Reduction Act” will do nothing of the sort and could end up exacerbating the problem.

While Democrats did attempt to include a broad-based rebate if drug prices increase at a faster rate than inflation, the Senate parliamentarian struck this provision down, and Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) went forward with the bill anyway.

The Hill’s Morning Report — Trump, Biden could reap political rewards after FBI search

  The Hill’s Morning Report — Trump, Biden could reap political rewards after FBI search Political analysts on both sides of the aisle said on Sunday TV programs that former President Trump’s supporters are more firmly in his corner after the FBI search at his Mar-a-Lago residence last week. Fans backed Trump before and after the FBI retrieved some super-secret material that he removed from the White House in 2021.…Fans backed Trump before and after the FBI retrieved some super-secret material that he removed from the White House in 2021. They accept his objections, accusations and political assertions and embrace many of the GOP candidates he’s endorsed this year.

In addition to driving costs up for the majority of Americans, the policy won’t provide relief for most Medicare recipients. The bill’s $2,000 out-of-pocket cap for Medicare Part D patients will help just a small fraction of beneficiaries and doesn’t even take effect until 2026. Even then, the policy will begin by addressing only ten of the most expensive drugs on the market.

The policy’s focus on big drug manufacturers, who make brand-name medications, will also inject uncertainty into the market and engender perpetual monopolies. It will make it harder for lower-cost generic drugs — which make up almost 90 percent of all filled prescriptions in the United States — to gain entry and compete in the market, driving up prescription drug prices for all Americans over time.

Furthermore, this policy will ultimately limit Medicare patients’ access to life-saving treatments. It gives drug manufacturers impossible requirements to meet — namely, if a manufacturer does not agree to sell at the government’s mandated price, they will be forced to either pay a 95 percent tax on the sales or pull their medication off the market.

Sanders says Democrats’ prescription drug reform bill is ‘weak’

  Sanders says Democrats’ prescription drug reform bill is ‘weak’ Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Tuesday that the prescription drug reform proposal that Democrats plan to move under special budget reconciliation rules is “weak,” noting it covers a limited number of drugs and doesn’t substantially take effect until 2026. Sanders is the latest member of the Senate Democratic Conference to voice…Sanders is the latest member of the Senate Democratic Conference to voice disappointment with the long-awaited budget reconciliation bill, which will not include provisions to tackle climate change or priorities such as funding for expanded access to child care and universal prekindergarten.

In the long run, this reform will also stifle medical and pharmaceutical innovation, curtailing all Americans’ access to life-saving drugs, especially seniors.

Continuing research following a medicine’s approval — or rejection — allows researchers to understand if a medication works at a different stage of an illness or for a different condition. This is especially important when it comes to treating cancer — as nearly 60 percent of oncology medications approved a decade ago received additional approvals for different types of cancer in the years to follow.

The Senate’s bill takes away the incentives that are necessary to encourage the continual investment in new cures by setting the price of medication before these advancements can be made. This will hurt seniors the most, as it disincentivizes drug makers from constantly investing in researching drugs that fall under Medicare coverage.

In order to more effectively minimize costs and maximize access, Democrats should be focused on promoting drug pricing reforms that eliminate inefficiencies and foster competitiveness in the marketplace.

This would involve cracking down on pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), which are third-party administrators of prescription drug programs, who reap the benefits of rebates instead of American patients. Oftentimes, PBMs receive more money from insurers than was paid for the medicine.

Trump said Dr. Oz will 'lose' the Pennsylvania Senate race without a course correction and questioned how the longtime TV personality could be lagging in polls: report

  Trump said Dr. Oz will 'lose' the Pennsylvania Senate race without a course correction and questioned how the longtime TV personality could be lagging in polls: report Trump said it would be "embarrassing" for Oz to lose to John Fetterman, whom the ex-president reportedly refers to as "that guy," per Rolling Stone.Oz, like Trump, is seeking to follow his success on television with a career in Washington, D.C. The celebrity doctor announced on Tuesday that he's running for US Senate in Pennsylvania as a Republican for the open seat currently held by GOP Sen. Pat Toomey, who is retiring in 2022.

By cutting out these middlemen — PBMs — Americans would be able to purchase prescriptions straight from the supplier, eliminating markups or unnecessary price hikes. This approach has been successfully undertaken in the private sector, as billionaire Mark Cuban’s venture — Cost Plus Drugs — offers more than 100 generic drugs at affordable prices by removing pharmacy benefit managers from the equation.

While there are many helpful reforms in the Democrats’ economic package, their drug pricing policy, unfortunately, misses the mark. All Americans will bear the brunt of increased prices and decreased access, ironically, seniors will be hit the hardest.

Douglas E. Schoen is a political consultant who served as an adviser to former President Clinton and to the 2020 presidential campaign of Michael Bloomberg. He is the author of “The End of Democracy? Russia and China on the Rise and America in Retreat.”

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.

Leaders raise alarm on growing fentanyl crisis .
In the spring of 2020, Santa Clarita resident Jaime Puerta suffered a loss most parents are afraid to even think about: His only son Daniel died. “I got into this fight the very first day when I found my son dead on April 1, 2020, due to fentanyl poisoning,” said Puerta, president of VOID, a […]“I got into this fight the very first day when I found my son dead on April 1, 2020, due to fentanyl poisoning,” said Puerta, president of VOID, a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness of the dangers of fentanyl. “My son went onto Snapchat, ordered what he thought was a blue 30 (mg) oxycodone pill at the very height of the pandemic, and it wasn’t what he thought it was.

See also