The makers of 10 drugs for serious illnesses, selected earlier this year to negotiate prices with the US government, have agreed to participate in the talks, the White House announced Tuesday.
The announcement comes despite continued rejection by pharmaceutical companies of the initiative, in which the federal government seeks to negotiate the prices of drugs covered by Medicare, the health insurance program for people over 65 years of age in the United States.
President Joe Biden's landmark Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the major legislative policy package of energy transition and social reforms he signed last year, allowed Medicare to begin negotiating drug prices for the first time in its almost 60 years of existence.
Under the law, the federal government is initially limited to choosing just 10 drugs for price negotiations, but can expand the program in subsequent years.
This is a key measure given that the United States pays on average 2.5 times more for prescription drugs than other developed countries, according to a study by the Rand Corporation.
"In total, the 10 drugs selected for negotiation represented $3.4 billion in out-of-pocket costs for approximately nine million Medicare enrollees in 2022," the White House said in a statement released Tuesday.
The 10 drugs include AstraZeneca's Farxiga, used against diabetes and heart failure, Pharmacycls' Imbruvica, used to treat blood cancer, and the blood thinner Eliquis (apixaban), used by more than 3.7 million Medicare beneficiaries.
The change in prices for the 10 drugs will not take effect until January 2026.