Latest Update March 1, 2024

Judge Upholds Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Program

On March 1, 2024, a federal district court judge in Delaware issued a ruling upholding the Inflation Reduction Act’s medicare drug price negotiation program. The case, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP v. Becerra et al., is one in a series of challenges to the Inflation Reduction Act’s (IRA) Medicare drug pricing negotiation program, which was enacted in part to help lower prescription drug prices for people who rely on Medicare. Democracy Forward is representing the nation’s leading medical and public health organizations, including the American College of Physicians, American Public Health Association, Society of General Internal Medicine, American Geriatrics Society, and American Society of Hematology in submitting friend-of-the-court briefs in eight of these cases. The briefs we submitted argue that the IRA’s Medicare drug price negotiation program will help improve patient outcomes and public health, and is unlikely to meaningfully reduce pharmaceutical innovation.

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Corporate interests have launched a series of legal challenges to try to stop the IRA’s Medicare drug price negotiation program from taking effect.

In 2003, Congress created Medicare Part D, which helps cover the cost of prescription drugs for Medicare recipients. Under the new law, unlike other government programs and agencies like the Veterans Administration or TRICARE, Medicare would not be allowed to negotiate the prices on the prescription drugs it was purchasing. 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. 

This system of drug pricing, especially in Medicare, has proven to be bad for the health and financial well-being of patients and consumers in the United States. 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. 

We have worked with leading organizations representing medical and public health to submit friend-of-the-court briefs in eight of these cases to highlight the evidence and make clear that the IRA’s drug price negotiation provisions will help improve patient outcomes and public health. The briefs also put forth evidence disproving false claims that price negotiations will be bad for patients and public health. 

Democracy Forward is representing these medical and public health professionals as part of our mission to support public health and evidence-based programs that benefit people and communities. As noted above, this is just one of a number of legal challenges to the price negotiation process working their way through the legal process, and we will continue to make sure the voices and experiences of experts  are heard by the courts.

Recognizing the status quo was unsustainable, the IRA aimed to address the problem of out-of-control drug prices by requiring Medicare to negotiate prices on the most expensive drugs covered by Medicare Part D. 

Corporate interests subsequently launched a series of legal challenges to try to stop the drug price negotiation program from taking effect. 

To date Democracy Forward has filed briefs in eight of these legal challenges, including: 

  • Merck v. Becerra
  • Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Becerra 
  • Bristol Myers Squibb Co. v. Becerra 
  • AstraZeneca v. Becerra 
  • Novo Nordisk Inc. et al v Becerra 
  • Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation v Becerra 
  • Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce et al v. Becerra 
  • Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals  v. Becerra