Biden Plan to Lower Drug Prices Touts Negotiation, Importation

With President Joe Biden starting to stake out his preferred strategy to lower drug prices, Washington, D.C. insiders say that policies allowing the importation of drugs from Canada and pegging Medicare drug prices to an index of international pharma costs are still under consideration by Congress. However, the experts add that both measures face long odds of making their way through the Senate.

The concept of an international drug pricing index is tied to a policy that would see Medicare negotiate the reimbursement rate of drugs with manufacturers. The international pricing index — which would likely see HHS aggregate price data from other developed countries, particularly those with Most Favored Nation trade status — would serve as the basis for the drug prices HHS negotiates with pharma. The Trump administration in December 2020 unveiled a mandatory demonstration of a most-favored-nation model that was blocked by a federal court in January. The rule was under review by the Biden administration until Aug. 6, when Biden’s HHS issued a proposed rule that would cancel the demonstration. But that draft regulation left the door open for a similar policy to be implemented later.

© 2024 MMIT
Peter Johnson

Peter Johnson

Peter has worked as a journalist since 2011 and has covered health care since 2020. At AIS Health, Peter covers trends in finance, business and policy that affect the health insurance and pharma sectors. For Health Plan Weekly, he covers all aspects of the U.S. health insurance sector, including employer-sponsored insurance, Medicaid managed care, Medicare Advantage and the Affordable Care Act individual marketplaces. In Radar on Drug Benefits, Peter covers the operations of (and conflicts between) pharmacy benefit managers and pharmaceutical manufacturers, with a particular focus on pricing dynamics and market access. Before joining AIS Health, Peter covered transportation, public safety and local government for various outlets in Seattle, his hometown and current place of residence. He graduated with a B.A. from Colby College.

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