Pharmaceutical Industry Trade Group Responds to AARP Letter on Prescription Drug Prices
In response to a letter from AARP CEO Bill Novelli to CEOs of the 16 largest drug makers, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America President Alan Holmer in a letter told Novelli that "he would be happy to work with him" but turned down "virtually every request" in Novelli's letter, CongressDaily reports (Rovner, CongressDaily, 3/12). Novelli requested that the drug manufacturers increase prices for existing drugs no faster than the Consumer Price Index, which is the basis for annual cost-of-living increases in Social Security benefits. Novelli also asked that the drug makers control prices of new prescription drugs; work to limit price markups through the supply chain; not oppose legislation that would allow the HHS secretary to negotiate Medicare prescription drug prices; disclose pricing information negotiated with pharmacy benefit managers to PBMs' clients; reform direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising to include information about the risks, side-effects and proven effectiveness more prominently on labels; support actions that would speed generics to market; and support 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" (California Healthline, 3/9). The PhRMA letter "failed to directly address the question of voluntary price restraint," but it included three pages of counterpoint, CQ Today reports. The letter said antitrust laws prohibit "any discussion of or involvement in any proposal concerning drug prices" (Carey, CQ Today, 3/12). Holmer wrote, "Imposing arbitrary government controls on the prices of medicines through Medicare or importation schemes would cause, not solve, a number of health care problems," adding that AARP's "recent ads and political posturing are unfortunately likely to confuse seniors and scare them away from taking advantage of a new program and benefit that will save the average senior over $1,600 annually" (CongressDaily, 3/12).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.