AARP Sends Letter To Pharmaceutical Companies To Request Price Controls
AARP CEO Bill Novelli on Monday sent a letter to 16 major prescription drug companies, requesting that they increase prices for existing drugs no faster than the Consumer Price Index, which is basis for annual cost-of-living increases in Social Security benefits, the New York Times reports. In the letter, Novelli said that drug companies also should "constrain the prices of new drugs" and use their influence to "curtail greater markups throughout the distribution chain" to retail pharmacies. John Rother, policy director for AARP, said that the organization has begun to track price changes for about 200 commonly prescribed drugs and would periodically report its findings to the public, the Times reports (Pear, New York Times, 3/9). In addition, Novelli said that the drug companies should support legislation that would permit U.S. residents to purchase medicines from foreign nations as long as it includes "strict procedures to ensure safety" (Sherman, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 3/8). While reimportation is not a "panacea," it is necessary to help seniors in the short term, Novelli said. He added, "Until we can bring costs in this country more in line with what people can afford, we ask that you join us in this effort, and at the very least, do nothing to choke off this vital lifeline." Novelli also requested that drug companies:
- Support comparative drug studies;
- Not oppose legislation that would allow the HHS secretary to negotiate Medicare prescription drug prices (Heil, CongressDaily, 3/9);
- Disclose pricing information negotiated with pharmacy benefit managers to the PBMs' clients;
- Reform direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising to include information about the risks, side-effects and proven effectiveness "more clearly and as prominently as information about benefits";
- Support actions that would speed generics to market after patents for branded products have expired; and
- Support "appropriate limits" on informing doctors of drug-company sponsorship of educational meetings and other marketing restrictions "consistent with the ethical guidelines of the American Medical Association."