President’s Forum 127 – Walmart Sets Example for Congress and Medicare

Walmart is doing what Congress and Medicare should be doing to reduce prescription drug prices.

Walmart announced on June 29 that it is working directly with the manufacture, Novo Nordisk, to provide a new brand of analog insulin at a much cheaper price for patients without insurance.

The drug is available in Walmart pharmacies and will be in Sam’s Club pharmacies in mid-July at a price about $73 for a vial or about $86 for a package of prefilled insulin pens. This represents a savings of as much as $101 per vial of insulin or up to $251 per pack of prefilled insulin pens.

The NRLN has been lobbying Congress to eliminate the “non-interference” clause that prevents Medicare from negotiating drug prices. Instead of negotiating, we are advocating a business model for competitive bidding with drug manufacturers to be applied wherever two or more FDA approved generic drugs, or two or more brand drugs, or a generic and brand drugs (upon patent expiration) treat the same medical condition.

A Medicare competitive bidding policy, direct from the manufacture, would bypass middlemen that mark up prices and keep rebates.

Just because Medicare is a non-profit government agency should not make a difference. Fannie-Mae, Defense Department, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) etc. at the federal level and state and local governmental agencies all get competitive bids, negotiate terms and buy direct form manufacturers. The prescription drug industry has sold Congress on the notion they are some sort of special breed, they are not!

Our politicians just don’t get it. Party politics and individual reelection needs predominate judgment that are making it possible for pharmaceutical companies to charge Americans high prices for their medicines. Brand-name and generic prescription drug prices in the United States are nearly three times higher than those in 32 other high-income countries, according to a report released in January by the RAND Corporation. Last year, prescription drug prices increased at twice the inflation rate of the U.S. economy.

Remember, Seniors Are Special!

Bill Kadereit, President
National Retiree Legislative Network