Debra Barrett, Executive Director of the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs, released the following statement in advance of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) markup on the Lower Health Care Costs Act:
“We’re encouraged that Congress is taking action on Americans’ top priority: health care costs. As a coalition representing employers, we believe that a competitive marketplace will help our members to manage costs while improving patient outcomes. Employers and other payers want choices to pay for services based on what best fits their specific employee or member needs.
We applaud the effort to enhance timely competition in the marketplace as a key to containing drug costs. As we indicated in our comments to the discussion draft, we support the Committee’s efforts to prevent ongoing gamesmanship by drug manufacturers, which slows down the approval and the availability of affordable generics and biosimilars.
We also support the new sections in Title II to clarify how the FDA handles orphan drugs, biosimilar applications and generic drug labeling, and are encouraged that the Committee has added the CREATES Act to the bill.
However, we are concerned that the current draft of the legislation retains provisions that would limit the ability of pharmaceutical benefit managers (PBMs) to operate on behalf of the businesses, unions, and government programs they work with to manage their drug benefit, drive down drug prices, and control overall health care costs. As list prices increase, PBMs are working to keep drug costs low and saving plans and members money. We urge the Committee to maintain plan sponsors’ flexibility in order to deliver the best results at the lowest cost.
Finally, in today’s markup, we hope the Committee will consider additional provisions that will drive down the list prices set by drug manufacturers and focus on helping patients, prescribers and pharmacists access lower drug prices, including by providing visibility into the patient’s benefits and costs in real-time.”