News Briefs: Biden Calls for Insulin Price Caps
During his annual State of the Union address on Feb. 7, President Joe Biden asked Congress to cap f insulin cost sharing at $35 for commercial-plan patients, among other health care items. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) caps out-of-pocket insulin costs for Medicare beneficiaries at $35. Earlier versions of the legislation included a commercial insurance insulin cost cap, but the provision was ultimately removed. The president also called on Congress to authorize new funding for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, which is set to expire later this year. Both asks seem unlikely to pass with austerity-minded Republicans in control of the House of Representatives.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said that he will do whatever he can to prevent the pharmaceutical lobby from watering down the IRA’s Medicare drug price negotiation provisions. Wyden, a drug price hawk and a key player in writing the IRA, said: “Anybody wants to water down the consumer protection provisions that we won after this titanic battle is going to have to run over me” during an event hosted by the group Protect Our Care on Feb. 6. He added that Senate Democrats are not interested in revisiting key provisions, including the difference in patent exclusivity between small molecule drugs and biologics. Small molecule drugs have nine years of exclusivity under the IRA, while biologics enjoy 13 years of patent protections.