HHS Secretary Releases Proposal to Lower Prescription Drug Costs

October 14, 2021 by Alec Stone MA, MPA, ONS Public Affairs Director

On September 9, 2021, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra released the Drug Pricing Plan to combat excessive pricing or prescription drugs and reduce the prices paid by the federal government for such drugs, and to address price gouging in the industry. The plan is a part of an initiative from President Biden’s executive order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy to advance the federal government’s ability to address overconcentration, monopolization, and unfair competition in the economy.

According to the HHS press release, one of the plan’s key policies would allow Becerra to negotiate Medicare Part B and Part D drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies and make those prices available to other purchasers, providing large savings for patients, government, and commercial payers.

The plan identifies three guiding principles for drug pricing reform:

“Americans pay too much for prescription drugs—more than $1,500 per person annually—and pay prices that are far higher than any comparable nation. Prices for brand name drugs are rising faster than inflation,” HHS said. “Many Americans do not take medications as prescribed because of their cost, with resulting harm to their health care and health.”

Oncology nurses understand the implications of improper oral adherence and unequal access. They have a responsibility to advocate for lower prescription drug costs to manage the financial toxicities of cancer care. Confront the challenges and barriers to care with ONS and learn to be an advocate for all patients.

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