To the Editor,
The cost of prescription drugs has been too high for too long, and it’s hurt American’s health and bank accounts. Medicines don’t work if people can’t afford them. For far too many people, high drug prices can force difficult choices like whether to ration meds or food or not pay the electric bill during a hot summer. This is true even for seniors covered by Medicare. But after years of effort, we are finally on a path to lower drug costs, starting with our seniors.
Up until last year, a provision in federal law written by the big drug companies prevented Medicare from getting better prices for seniors and taxpayers. I have always thought that was wrong and for years led the bill to fix this. Finally, in 2022, parts of my bill were signed into law. As a result, Medicare just released a list of ten drugs that cost Medicare and taxpayers a fortune last year that will be subject to negotiated prices in the next few years. Those drugs are:
• Eliquis which treats and prevents blood clots
• Jardiance which treats diabetes and heart failure
• Xarelto which treats and prevents blood clots and cardiovascular disease
• Januvia which treats diabetes
• Farxiga which treats diabetes, heart failure, and chronic kidney disease
• Entresto which treats heart failure
• Enbrel which treats rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and psoriatic arthritis
• Imbruvica which treats blood cancers
• Stelara which treats psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis
• Fiasp and NovoLog which treat diabetes
Patients taking these common medications for everything from rheumatoid arthritis to blood clots to diabetes deserve better prices. I’m thinking of a patient in Glenville who stopped taking Januvia and Jardiance because of the high cost. A lower price could be game-changing for his health and reduce his expenses. Every year, additional prescription drugs will get negotiated prices, so those taking drugs not on this list should benefit from savings in the years ahead.
This announcement is a big landmark, but it’s just a start. There is still so much work to do. I am continuing to fight to pass my new legislation to double the number of drugs that Medicare can negotiate the price of each year. I lead another bill with Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa to stop some of Big Pharma’s most predatory conduct, like keeping affordable generics off the market. It passed the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this year, and I’m working to get it to the floor of the Senate for a full vote.
The era of Big Pharma shaking down seniors is coming to an end. We can no longer be a country that looks away as routine medications drive Americans deeper and deeper into debt. Congress took action, and prices are coming down. I’m committed to working across the aisle to build on this momentum to make prescription drugs more affordable.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar