Attacking Biden's efforts to negotiate lower drug prices, Mark Levin claims patients can get the drugs free from pharmaceutical companies if they need them

Levin reads an op-ed from a Big Pharma CEO

Attacking Biden's efforts to negotiate lower drug prices, Mark Levin claims patients can get the drugs free from pharmaceutical companies if they need them

Levin attacks gov't negotiating prescription drug prices
Audio file

Citation From the August 29, 2023, edition of Westwood One's The Mark Levin Show

MARK LEVIN (HOST): Contrary to how it's been framed, the Inflation Reduction Act's drug pricing program doesn't involve negotiated – negotiation in any ordinary sense of the word. If a drug developer disagrees with the dictate price, our only options are to pay impossibly high penalties or withdraw all our medicines from Medicare and Medicaid altogether. That's not a choice. We'd never do that to our patients.

So that essentially lets the government set any price it chooses. And making matters worse, the Inflation Reduction Act will force drug makers to “agree,” quote-unquote, that the dictated price is the, quote, “maximum fair price,” unquote, no matter how unfair the price may be.

Again, when you read The Democrat Party Hates America, focus on the chapter that talks about how they use language and phrases in ways that advance their cause and destroy the actual language and phrases. So they talk about “agree” when in fact there is no agreement. They talk about a “maximum fair price” when in fact it's not a fair price.

Says the law will end up discouraging the development of oral drugs that help millions of elderly patients in the U.S. Now, why would that happen? Why would that happen? Because, ladies and gentlemen, they have price controls in Venezuela, they have price controls in Cuba, they have price controls in every totalitarian regime, which is why people are starving, which why they don't get access to medicines, which is why there is no development of new medicines, new technologies, and new products.

We don't have price controls on fuel. If we did, you'd freeze to death. You'd freeze to death in the winter and sweat to death in the summer. Price controls.

The Inflation Reduction Act arbitrarily offers less protection to quote-unquote “small molecule medicines,” including those taken in a pill or capsule than to large molecule injected or infused medicines. Thereby penalizing the development of treatments that are more convenient for patients. You know, let's take a pill for this. There's going to be less of that now. It also targets treatments that help many older Americans, sending a signal that industry should walk away from medicines for the elderly. We think that's wrong.

Now, he may think that's wrong, but that's going to be the consequence. Why? Let me tell you the truth. Medicare and Medicaid, they need to slash their costs because they're going bankrupt. Rather than adjust and reform the programs, they need to slash the costs. So if they can drive up — that is, discourage — the production of medicines, particularly for the elderly, where they become cost-prohibitive because you put these profit caps on top of them, your parents and grandparents are the ones who are going to suffer. They're not only not going to be able to get new drugs, they're not going to be able to get the drugs they're on right now.

Eliquis is at the top of the government's list, not because its price is high, but rather because so many Americans on Medicare, more than 3 million, rely on it to reduce the risk of stroke and other conditions. Though frequently prescribed, Eliquis ranked for 540th among Medicare Part D drugs and Medicare spending per patient in 2021. So it's a relatively an inexpensive drug. But it helps millions of elderly in particular. Seniors on Medicare pay on average $55 a month for the drug. Half of all Eliquis patients pay $45 or less. They're targeting because of its broad use by seniors.

Remember when Obama was putting in Obamacare? And remember what that crackpot brother of his chief of staff said about the death of seniors and so forth? I've told you over and again, the Democrat Party doesn't care about people. When you watch what they do, you just keep in mind they don't care about people. They care about power. So here you have an inexpensive drug that saves the lives of people, particularly seniors, who need to thin out their blood in order, frankly, so their heart functions the way it needs to function. Makes no sense, he writes, to take a medicine that's already priced based on the value it delivers and demand even greater concessions, especially given that there's no requirement that the insurance companies under Medicare, that administer Medicare, will pass any new savings to the patients.

I share the concerns that our current system asks seniors to pay more for medicines than for other healthcare expense. As an industry, we're open to reforms that address these change challenges. But the incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act are backward. We should want more effective and safer medicines, more medicines for America's seniors, or easy-to-take options. Instead, this sort of Washington regulation will force innovative biopharmaceutical companies to make gut-wrenching choices about research and investment priorities. In other words, they're not going to invest in the areas that the government's controlling. Because they don't want to go broke. It's like these utility companies that are not able to maintain their infrastructure because they're being forced to invest in climate change. Similar in part what happened in Hawaii. At least that's part of what contributed to it.

Now what they're saying is, we'll go broke. We can't go broke if we lose money on every pill because the government isn't really negotiating — they're dictating what we can charge. This is a Bernie Sanders initiative.

This won't crush innovation entirely. In a couple of months, I will retire as CEO. And I know that the people working in our labs will never give up. Biopharmaceutical researchers are achieving medical breakthroughs that would have seemed like miracles a generation ago. But these steps forward aren't miracles. They're the inevitable result of a deep understanding of biology and a commitment to improving patients' lives. The question then isn't whether the engines of innovation America is known for throughout the world will continue. Instead, the question is whether bad policy will end up steering that innovation in ways that harm patients rather than help them.

Many people are very short-sighted. Yes. I want cheaper drugs. Cheap, cheap, cheap. This is a fairly cheap drug, considering the benefit. There are drugs out there that are $2,$3, $5, $10,000 a pop. Why? Some of them are relatively new. Some of them deal with very rare diseases.

You want to see where this administration is taking us? Look at Britain. They will not develop medicines or treatments for rare diseases. They make a cost-benefit analysis based on what the bureaucrats determine is important and how the bureaucrats determine to keep the National Health Service afloat. It's a bureaucratic nightmare.

So if you have a rare disease and a drug costs like $10, $15, $20,000, Britain doesn't bother. Also, what they don't talk about and they're never going to, and many of you are probably not inclined to hear this, every single major drug company —.I'm not on the drug companies' payroll; I'm not running drug company ads on this program. I'm just make it a point. Because I'm a capitalist, which means I believe in humanity.

The drug companies collectively spend $20 billion dollars in helping patients that can demonstrate that they truly cannot afford the drugs, that their income level is such. Now, a lot of people play the system. They lie about their income — not talking about you. But a lot of people play the system. They lie about their income or they'll move assets, you know, to a relative, a kid or whatever. But the drug companies don't even really work that hard to vet that. You fill out a form. You send it in to the drug company. It's signed by your doctor. It's really quite easy. I haven't done this, but I've gone through this — understanding this process in these prior debates we had on Obamacare, when I've talked to these companies and I've talked to these doctors. And you get the drug for free — for as long as you can demonstrate that you need it.

So that cost is built into their overhead too. So what drugs are they talking about? Eliquis, you heard. Jardiance from Eli Lilly, a diabetes treatment. Boehringer Ingelheim and Januvia from Merck. They made the list — also known as Amgen's autoimmune disease treatment. Enbrel. Entresto from Novartis, which is used to treat heart failure. Other drugs on the list: AstraZeneca's diabetes and heart failure treatment. Farxiga. The blood thinner. I can't pronounce them all. Xarelto. The blood cancer treatment Imbruvica. And its biggest seller, Stelara, an IV treatment for psoriasis and other inflammatory disorders.

And the list goes on. So what you're going to see now is a tremendous shortage of these drugs. That's what you're going to see. And now a tremendous shortage of new drugs. I'll be right back.

In this clip, Mark Levin in part is reading from a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Giovanni Caforio about the upcoming Medicare drug negotiations. Caforio is the CEO of the pharmaceutical company Bristol Myers Squibb. The company launched a lawsuit against the federal government over the plans to negotiate lower prices. The company had been under the microscope for raising prices in recent years, specifically regarding Eliquis.

Meanwhile, there are reportedly millions of Americans who cannot afford to pay for their prescription drugs.

The Associated Press described the upcoming negotiations:

President Joe Biden touted the potential cost savings of Medicare’s first-ever price negotiations for widely used prescription drugs on Tuesday as he struggles to convince Americans that he’s improved their lives as he runs for reelection.

The drugs include the blood thinner Eliquis, diabetes treatment Jardiance and eight other medications. The negotiation process was authorized under the Inflation Reduction Act, which Biden signed last year, capping decades of debate over whether the federal government should be allowed to haggle with pharmaceutical companies.

Any lower prices won’t take effect for three years, and the path forward could be further complicated by litigation from drugmakers and heavy criticism from Republicans.

But the effort is a centerpiece of Biden’s reelection pitch as the Democrat tries to show Americans he’s deserving of a second term because of the work he’s doing to lower costs while the country is struggling with inflation. The drug negotiations, like many of Biden’s biggest policy moves, will take time to play out, and his challenge is to persuade the public to be patient.