Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra on Thursday unveiled the Biden administration’s road map to lowering the cost of prescription drugs in the U.S.
The plan, summarized in a 29-page document, supports legislation that allows the U.S. government to negotiate lower prices on the costliest drugs each year and pass those savings on to private insurers. Current rules prohibit the HHS from negotiating drug prices on behalf of Medicare — the federal government’s health insurance plan for the elderly.
It would reduce regulatory barriers to getting a new drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration and incentivize drugmakers to develop medications that are already on the U.S. market, ensuring competition and forcing other companies to lower prices, according to the administration.
“Life-saving prescription medication should not cost anyone their life savings. Yet too often, many low-income families cannot take their prescription medications because of cost concerns,” Becerra said in a statement released alongside the plan.
“By promoting negotiation, competition, and innovation in the health care industry, we will ensure cost fairness and protect access to care,” he added.
Lowering the cost of drugs has been a goal by Democrats and some Republicans for years, but the proposals now have a new sense of urgency as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to spreads across the nation, sending hundreds of thousands of Americans to the hospital.
Last month, President Joe Biden asked lawmakers to enact legislation aimed at lowering drug prices, including allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.
HHS said Thursday the price for brand name drugs in America are rising faster than inflation, and lack of competition is a key factor in these high drug costs.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.