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Medicare drug negotiation bill supports savings

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Senate Medicare Drug Negotiation Bill Advances Savings Process for Seniors; Comparative Effectiveness of Medicines

(Washington, D.C.) –The Senate Finance Committee chairman’s bill to allow Medicare prescription drug price negotiation will begin the legislative process on how best to achieve significant savings for seniors and taxpayers, as well as advance the cause of comparative effectiveness of medications, Consumers Union said today.
“If we can get Medicare drug prices similar to those that the Veterans Administration and foreign governments get, we literally would save our children and grandchildren trillions of dollars,” said Bill Vaughan, senior policy analyst for Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports. “Congress must start that savings process, and the Senate bill advances that cause.”
In addition to removing the roadblock on price negotiation, the bill sponsored by Sen. Max Baucus, D-MT, would increase the power of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to research key health effectiveness issues to better understand the most effective course of medical treatment.
“To borrow a line from Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon, not all drugs are above average, and we should not be paying more for drugs that are not particularly effective, or don’t work at all,” Vaughan said.
The bill also ensures that Medicare drug plans when setting their formularies give consideration to comparative effectiveness. This proposal builds on the work of Consumer Union’s free public education project, www.CRBestBuyDrugs.org, which uses objective, scientific comparative effectiveness research of the Oregon Health and Science University, and data on drug pricing, to make recommendations for the safest, most effective, and best value drugs.
“Expanding the use of scientific comparative effectiveness in setting Medicare and other drug formularies will save lives and untold billions of dollars in the years to come,” Vaughan said.
Contact: Susan Herold, Bill Vaughan, 202-462-6262