Drug Stocks Drop on White House Plan to Lower Drug Costs

By Vidhi Choudhary

Stocks of pharmaceutical makers slumped on Thursday after the Biden Administration unveiled plans to lower prescription-drug pricing for Americans.

The White House plan includes, among many other proposals:

-- enabling the federal government to negotiate drug prices for Medicare and pass on the savings to the private sector;

-- testing value-based models by which payment for drugs would be based on their clinical value to patients;

-- drug-importation programs that reduce costs.

"Life-saving prescription medication should not cost anyone their life saving," Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

Medicare is the health program for people aged 65 and older and for younger people with disabilities.

Other measures include:

-- new legislation to slow price increases over time on current drugs

-- a cap on the amount Medicare beneficiaries pay out of pocket for drugs;

-- and speeding up lower-priced alternatives to patented and name-brand drugs.

"Americans spend more than $1,500 per person on prescription drugs and pay prices that are far higher than any comparable nation," the executive summary to the plan says. 

"Prices for brand-name drugs are rising faster than inflation. Many Americans do not take medications as prescribed because of their cost, with resulting harm to their health care and health. 

"Lack of competition is a key factor in these high drug costs.'

The plan to combat high drug prices is based on an executive order that President Joe Biden signed in early July. It tasked HHS with developing the road map within 45 days.

Shares of major drugmakers at last check fell across the board: Merck  (MRK Get Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) Report by 1.6%,  Pfizer  (PFE Get Pfizer Inc. Report by 0.7%, Abbott Labs  (ABT Get Abbott Laboratories Report by 0.8%, Eli Lilly  (LLY Get Eli Lilly and Company (LLY) Report by 4%, Bristol-Myers Squibb  (BMY Get Bristol-Myers Squibb Company Report by 1% and Novartis  (NVS Get Novartis AG Sponsored ADR Report by 1.6%.

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