Citing outrageous costs and safety concerns around Alzheimer’s drug, Sanders calls for prescription drugs developed at taxpayer expense to be reasonably priced
WASHINGTON, Jan. 26 – As deliberations continue around a Medicare premium increase that would hike health care costs for millions of seniors across the country – largely triggered by an expensive new Alzheimer’s drug that has raised serious doubts in the scientific community – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Tuesday sent a letter to David Dolan, MBA, Lead Analyst for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), urging CMS to finalize its decision to limit Medicare coverage for Aduhelm and for CMS to reject calls by the pharmaceutical industry to expand coverage of the drug.
Sanders wrote, “The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) made the correct decision to sharply limit Medicare coverage for the Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm to qualified clinical trials. I would strongly urge that this proposal be finalized as soon as possible and that CMS reject calls by the pharmaceutical industry to greatly expand coverage for this vastly overpriced and controversial drug. While I applaud Secretary Becerra’s decision to instruct CMS to reconsider the outrageous increase in Medicare premiums attributable to the original $56,000 price tag for Aduhelm, much more must be done.”
In early December of 2021, Sanders sent a letter to President Biden urging his administration to prevent an increase in Medicare premiums coming in 2022 following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of the outrageously expensive Aduhelm, which was then priced at $56,000 per person each year. In his December letter, Sanders urged the Biden Administration to immediately prevent the Medicare Part B premium increase, delay Medicare’s approval for use of Aduhelm until it is deemed safe and effective, and take executive action to reinstate and expand the reasonable pricing clause requiring drug makers that receive federal funding to charge reasonable prices for prescription drugs and treatments – a policy that ended in 1995.
In his letter to Dolan at CMS, Sanders expanded on the need for urgent action by CMS and the Biden Administration. “In my view, the administration should immediately lower Medicare premiums by at least $11.50 a month and provide a refund to some 57 million senior citizens for the premium increases that have already gone into effect this month,” wrote Sanders. “If the administration takes no action, Medicare recipients will continue to see their biggest premium increase in history. We cannot allow that to happen…If the Administration accepts Biogen’s price for this drug, seniors who receive it would be forced to come up with a 20 percent co-pay of $5,600 out of their own pockets – which would be simply unacceptable.”
Sanders continued, “Let us have the courage to take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry, lower the outrageous prices of prescription drugs, and prevent seniors from paying unnecessarily inflated Medicare premiums and co-payments.”