Drop Your Suits, Drop Your Prices: 70+ Health Groups oppose U.S. Chamber of Commerce lawsuits aiming to prevent life-saving drug price negotiations
By Dani Klein
On Wednesday, August 16, Public Citizen and several partner organizations held a press event at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to deliver a letter and petition demanding that the Chamber of Commerce and Big Pharma drop their lawsuits against Medicare drug price negotiation provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act and negotiate lower prices.
As mandated by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), starting in 2023, Medicare will begin to negotiate directly with drug manufacturers to bring down the prices of certain covered high-price prescription drugs. Specifically, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will select single source Medicare drugs covered under Medicare Part B or Part D to be included in the negotiations.1 CMS will announce the first 10 drugs selected for negotiation by September 1, 2023, and the first round of negotiations will occur during 2023 and 2024, with the negotiated prices taking effect in 2026.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and three regional and local chambers responded to this negotiation plan by filing suit to declare the price negotiation program unconstitutional, and similar suits have also been filed by several pharmaceutical companies as well as the industry’s lobbying group, PhRMA. The Chamber also filed a motion for preliminary injunction, requesting that the court immediately halt the drug price negotiation program before negotiations are set to start in October. The suit and the motion were filed on the grounds that the IRA’s drug price negotiation program violates the separation of powers, violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, violates the First Amendment by compelling speech, and several other Constitution-based objections to the IRA drug price negotiations.
In an amicus curiae brief filed a few days before the press event, Public Citizen argued that the Chamber’s request for an injunction should be denied because of the irreparable public harm that delaying the IRA’s negotiation timeline would cause.
The legal challenges from the Chamber of Commerce and Big Pharma have the potential to significantly delay negotiation of life-saving drug prices to more affordable levels, while patients have already waited nearly 20 years for Medicare to be granted this commonsense authority. Nearly three in ten American adults who take prescription medication have skipped doses, rationed their drugs, or not filled prescriptions due to rising costs. College student Jacqueline Garibay, Washington D.C. resident Laura Marston, and Medicare patient Arthur Blair all spoke at the recent press event about their experiences losing their savings, their jobs, their possessions, and their time to the constant struggle to afford the drugs they need to survive. If pharmaceutical companies continue to price gouge and refuse to meet the government at the negotiating table, they will be directly responsible for endangering the lives of millions of Americans.