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Wyden touts IRA drug benefits – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News

The senator visited West Main Pharmacy in Medford on Tuesday to discuss the new Inflation Reduction Act

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, greets Grants Pass Pharmacy’s Michele Belcher, left, Don Bruland and Michael Le Tuesday before a news conference at West Main Pharmacy in Medford. [Jamie Lusch/Mail Tribune]

Highlighting a series of changes for Medicare beneficiaries that lower out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, joined pharmacy owners Tuesday in Medford to praise the passage of the Inflation reduction law.

Wyden called the act signed Tuesday by President Joe Biden “a big dose of good news for hundreds of thousands of seniors in Southern Oregon and across our state,” at a news conference at West Main Pharmacy in the west of Medford.

The Inflation Reduction Act will cap insulin costs for Medicare patients at $35 a month starting in 2023, cap out-of-pocket drug costs to no more than $4,000 in 2024, and finally cap them at $2,000 from 2025, according to an official. invoice summary.

“Now we’re going to have an out-of-pocket limit that will help seniors off the financial tightrope,” Wyden said.

The law also includes new bargaining power for Medicare to negotiate the cost of 100 prescription drugs over the next decade, a change that Wyden, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, described as hard-fought.

“I’ve worked for years to lift this horrible ban on Medicare being able to negotiate a better deal for seniors,” Wyden said. “Big Pharma has treated this ban almost as if they were protecting the Holy Grail.”

“This is a seismic shift in the relationship between seniors, taxpayers and Big Pharma,” Wyden added.

Michelle Belcher, owner of Grants Pass Pharmacy and president of the National Community Pharmacists Association, said she and her pharmacists have seen firsthand how drug prices affect patients on fixed incomes.

“I experience weekly people talking to me about choosing between taking their insulin properly, meaning every day, or paying the co-pay they have,” Belcher said.

As an example, a few weeks ago, Belcher said he checked on a senior patient who hadn’t filled his 30-day insulin prescription in 45 days.

“When I called and asked if her doctor had changed her dose, she said, ‘No, I can’t afford the co-pays because I’m on the hook, so I decided to start taking it every other day.’ .” Belcher said. “This shouldn’t happen to our elders.”

Belcher said the new law will help her patients take their medications as prescribed by their doctors, which will not only improve their health but could improve doctors’ abilities to treat them.

Many patients feel embarrassed to tell their doctor that they are not taking their medication as directed, Belcher said. If the doctor sees that the patient is not responding to the medicine they were prescribed, this could lead to unnecessary changes in the dose or medication.

“I think this will change the lives of my patients,” Belcher said.

Wyden said he drew heavily on Belcher’s input while crafting prescription drug reforms in the Senate Finance Committee.

Wyden, Belcher and West Main Pharmacy owner Michael Le said small pharmacies are hit hard by pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, who offer patients with Medicare Part D and other health insurance plans of much lower drugs to go with a mail-order prescription business. with links to the insurer.

“Independent pharmacies have their backs against the wall,” Le said.

“Give these small pharmacies a chance to have a level playing field, and not just get pushed out of the field by the big guys, these PBMs that are really big insurance outfits playing middleman,” Wyden said.

Starting this fall, according to Wyden, pharmaceutical manufacturers will have to pay penalties if they raise the prices of drugs, especially older drugs, above the rate of inflation.

“This is going to be the first time that there’s anything in Medicare, which started in ’65, that’s actually there to stop price gouging.”

The ability to lift the ban on Medicare drug negotiations was a “tough vote,” Wyden said, requiring Vice President Kamala Harris to break a 50-50 tie.

The Senate Finance Committee plans to target 100 of the most expensive drugs over the next decade to treat everything from arthritis to cancer.

Wyden spoke about his efforts to pass a bipartisan prescription drug bill he worked on with Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa in 2020. During the formation of that bill, which was not passed, Wyden said there was strong resistance to lifting the law. prohibition

“Everybody in America negotiates … how can you say 50 million seniors shouldn’t have someone to negotiate with so they can stand up to Big Pharma,” Wyden said.

Wyden said he is looking toward legislation to lower prescription drug costs for those not on Medicare.

“I also think it’s time to stop raising the prices of the not-yet-big,” Wyden said. “I’ll be back in September.”

Contact Web Editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or Follow him on Twitter @MTwebeditor.


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