Coalition of the Nation’s Leading Organizations of Medical and Public Health Professionals Sound Alarm 

NEW JERSEY – A Judge in the US District Court for the District of New Jersey heard oral arguments this week in four cases challenging the Inflation Reduction Act’s (IRA) Medicare drug pricing negotiation program. The four cases have significant implications for the IRA’s ability to prevent drug companies from price-gouging, and the nation’s leading medical and public health organizations submitted briefs in each of the cases, arguing that the IRA’s Medicare drug price negotiation program will help improve patient outcomes and public health.

“Excessive drug prices are a massive threat to public health. Doctors and medical experts have made clear how important it is that the Inflation Reduction Act’s Medicare drug pricing negotiation program continue, and help keep the price of medication manageable for patients and for the public health safety net,” said Ananda Burra, Senior Counsel with Democracy Forward, which represented a coalition of medical and public health professionals in submitting an amicus brief in the case. “We are committed to representing the nation’s medical community to help ensure courts know the serious public health implications of over-priced medications and that leading health professionals support this attempt to reduce unmanageable price gouging at the public’s expense. Our clients have made clear – the danger of not acting to reduce the cost of medication is substantial and harms patients.”

Democracy Forward is representing the American Public Health Association, the American College of Physicians, the Society of General Internal Medicine and the American Geriatrics Society in these cases, submitting amicus briefs in eight of the challenges to the Medicare drug pricing negotiation program. 

“As an organization of general internal medicine physicians, the Society of General Internal Medicine is pleased to be a partner in defending the legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate more reasonable prices for the medications our patients need,” said Eric Bass of the Society of General Internal Medicine. 

“The American Geriatrics Society has long advocated that older adults have access to medically necessary, appropriate, and affordable medications and greatly appreciates this opportunity to collaborate with Democracy Forward and other leading national organizations in support of fair drug pricing for Medicare beneficiaries,” added Alana Goldstein of the American Geriatrics Society. 

“Health is inextricably linked to access to affordable prescription drugs, and drug affordability remains a major public health challenge in the U.S. The combination of high prices and inadequate insurance coverage places drugs out of reach for many patients in the Medicare system. That’s why the American Public Health Association has strongly supported and defended the Inflation Reduction Act’s Medicare price negotiation program. This critical new program will make some of the most expensive and most widely used prescription drugs more affordable and ensure that patients have access to affordable life-saving medications,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, Executive Director, American Public Health Association.

In 2003, Congress created Medicare Part D, which helps cover the cost of prescription drugs for Medicare recipients. Until the new law, unlike other government programs and agencies like the Veterans Administration or the Department of Defense’s TRICARE, Medicare was not allowed to negotiate the prices on the prescription drugs it was paying for. With Medicare Part D unable to negotiate on these prices for essential medicines that people rely on to stay alive, the cost of the program has ballooned into one of the federal government’s biggest expenditures. 

More than one-third of Americans say cost has prevented them from filling a prescription. People of color, people with disabilities, people with lower incomes, and women disproportionately bear the brunt of high drug prices. And Americans pay 2-2.5 times what other similar countries pay for prescription drugs. Certain drug companies, in filing these lawsuits, have argued that they should be allowed to dictate the prices the government should pay for vital life-saving medications. The District of Delaware’s decision to dismiss AstraZeneca’s lawsuit last week (building on an earlier rejection by the Southern District of Ohio) is a promising step for ensuring equitable health care.  

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