Sunday, March 26, 2023

Pfizer to pay Medicare rebates for five drugs under Biden plan to lower Rx costs

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President Joe Biden delivers remarks about the Build Back Better legislation’s new rules around prescription drug prices in the East Room of the White House on December 06, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

Five of Pfizer’s drugs will cost less for Medicare recipients starting next month as part of President Joe Biden’s plan to lower prescription drug costs, the Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday. 

Pfizer’s drugs are among the first set of 27 Part B prescription drugs that will be subject to Medicare inflation rebates starting April 1, according to the department. That requires Pfizer and other prescription drug companies to refund Medicare through rebates because the prices for those drugs rose faster than the rate of inflation. 

Pfizer’s drugs include the blood thinner Fragmin, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1994. It also includes Atgam, a medicine used to treat symptoms of Renal Allograft and Aplastic Anemia, and the chemotherapy injection Nipent. Pfizer’s antibacterial drugs Bicillin L-A, used for treating syphilis, and Bicillin C-R are also included. Both drugs are also used to treat upper respiratory infections.

Seniors could see their out-of-pocket costs for the drugs decrease by $2 to as much as $390 per average dose, the department said. The amount that Medicare beneficiaries will save depends on several factors, such as what their treatment protocol is and whether they have supplemental coverage. 

The savings stem from a provision of the Inflation Reduction Act, which congressional Democrats passed last August. The announcement is also part of Biden’s broader push to reduce healthcare costs for Americans amid stubbornly high inflation. 

In addition to the rebates, the provision discourages other companies from hiking their prices at a faster rate than inflation in the future, the department said. An HHS report released in September 2022 found that the prices of 1,200 prescription drugs increased faster than inflation in 2021, one year before the IRA was signed into law. 

Later this year, Medicare will start negotiating lower prescription drug prices for its beneficiaries. 

“Already, millions of seniors are saving hundreds of dollars each per year because of the Biden Administration’s actions, and President Biden is fighting to expand these cost savings to all Americans,” the White House said in a statement. 

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