Big Pharma Offers Financial Help For Comprehensive Health Care Reform

How Much Input to The  Administration and Congress’ Health Reform Plan Will Big Pharma’s $80B Pledge to Health Reform Buy?

As I read Tracy Staton ‘s Fierce Pharma report about Big Pharma’s  $80BILLION pledge, that was the first question that came to mind. Apparently wanting to give the Health Care Reform a boost, Drugmakers have agreed to foot the bill for $80 billion in Medicare drugs over the next decade. Some portion of that will benefit Medicare recipients, who, as you know, are on the hook for several thousand dollars’ worth of meds annually during the “donut hole” coverage gap. Some other portion will lower the cost of health reform, probably via bigger rebates to Medicare.

For thise of us who have not got our heads around the REALLY BIG BUDGET NUMBERS Washington is throwing around these days, $80 billion is less than one-tenth the projected cost of healthcare reform. But by striking this cost-sharing deal with one of the reform effort’s leaders–Sen. Max Baucus–and the White House, drugmakers could shame other providers into cutting their prices, too. Lawmakers will be able to twist some healthcare arms more forcefully, now that pharma has made this deal. And by delivering real, live cost-cutting, the reformers will be able to neutralize critics’ most tangible beef: That reform costs too much.

AARP is set to endorse the deal today at the White House, along with the Presiden
t, who’s already praised the agreement and called it a “turning point” in reform efforts. PhRMA was quick to pat itself (and the industry) on the back for the savings: “America’s pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies are signaling their strong support for these critically important efforts,” CEO Billy Tauzin said in a statement. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and, working together, we can make this hope for a better tomorrow a reality today.” Whether this deal will help drugmakers avoid greater revenue losses to healthcare reform remains to be seen. The full PhRMA press release is posted below.

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)Statement on Medicare Part D Coverage Gap

WASHINGTON, June 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) President and CEO Billy Tauzin and PhRMA Board Chairman David Brennan, Chief Executive Officer, AstraZeneca, issued the following statement regarding today’s commitment, as part of health care reform, to help close the coverage gap in the Medicare prescription drug program (Part D):

“PhRMA is committed to working with the Administration and Congress to help enact comprehensive health care reform this year. We share a common goal: every American should have access to affordable, high-quality health care coverage and services.

“As part of that reform, one thing that we have agreed to do is support legislation that will help seniors affected by the coverage gap in the Medicare prescription drug benefit. Although the program has been a tremendous success for the vast majority of seniors, the coverage gap has posed a challenge to some seniors and our companies have been exploring ways to address this issue for several years.

“Under this proposed new legislative program – which represents the first important step in health care reform – America’s pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies have agreed to help close the gap in coverage. Specifically, companies will provide a 50 percent discount to most beneficiaries on brand-name medicines covered by a patient’s Part D plan when purchased in the coverage gap.

“In addition, the entire negotiated price of the Part D covered medicine purchased in the coverage gap would count toward the beneficiary’s out-of-pocket costs, thus lowering their total out-of-pocket spending. Importantly, the proposal would not require any additional paperwork on the part of the beneficiary nor would an asset test be used for eligibility.

“Since its inception, strong competition among drug plans participating in the Medicare drug benefit has led to significant savings for seniors. On average, beneficiaries are saving $1,200 annually on their medicines, and the average low-income beneficiary saves $3,900, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This agreement will help to provide additional savings to even more seniors across the nation.

“Even though Medicare beneficiaries are satisfied with their prescription drug coverage – as evidenced by a recent Medicare Today survey showing overall satisfaction has grown from 78 percent at the start of the program in 2006 to 84 percent in 2009 – we have constantly explored ways to improve the benefit.

“This commitment to support legislation that will help close the coverage gap reflects our ongoing work with Congress and the Administrationto make comprehensive health care reform a reality this year.”

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country’s leading pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, which are devoted to inventing medicines that allow patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. PhRMA companies are leading the way in the search for new cures. PhRMA members alone invested an estimated $50.3 billion in 2008 in discovering and developing new medicines. Industry-wide research and investment reached a record $65.2 billion in 2008.


Author: H. Sandra Chevalier-Batik

I started the Inconvenient Woman Blog in 2007, and am the product of a long line of inconvenient women. The matriarchal line is French-Canadian, Roman Catholic, with a very feisty Irish great-grandmother thrown in for sheer bloody mindedness. I am a research analyst and author who has made her living studying technical data, and developing articles, training materials, books and web content. Tracking through statistical data, and oblique cross-references to find the relevant connections that identifies a problem, or explains a path of action, is my passion. I love clearly delineating the magic questions of knowledge: Who, What, Why, When, Where and for How Much, Paid to Whom. My life lessons: listen carefully, question with boldness, and personally verify the answers. I look at America through the appreciative eyes of an immigrant, and an amateur historian; the popular and political culture is a ceaseless fascination. I have no impressive initials after my name. I’m merely an observer and a chronicler, an inconvenient woman who asks questions, and sometimes encourages others to look at things differently.