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Medicare Grants Transparency: Pharmaceutical Companies Now Permitted to Publicly Discuss Drug Price Negotiations

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Medicare Allows Public Disclosure of Drug Price Negotiations

Medicare Revises Confidentiality Requirement

Medicare announced on Friday that it will no longer require pharmaceutical companies to keep the details of its drug price negotiations confidential. This comes after the industry argued that the requirement violated their First Amendment rights. In its initial guidance, Medicare prohibited companies from disclosing the lower price offered by the government for drugs targeted under the program, as well as the government's reasons for selecting that price point. However, in the revised guidance, Medicare stated that companies can now choose to publicly disclose information regarding ongoing negotiations.

The Inflation Reduction Act Empowers Medicare

Last year, the Inflation Reduction Act gave Medicare the authority to directly negotiate with pharmaceutical companies over drug prices for the first time. The Biden administration sees this program as a crucial step in controlling rising drug prices in the US. However, the pharmaceutical industry and organizations like the US Chamber of Commerce and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America filed lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the drug price negotiations.

Industry Lawsuits and Constitutional Claims

The lawsuits filed by Merck, Bristol Myers Squibb, and other industry players argue that Medicare's confidentiality requirement imposed a gag order, effectively banning companies from publicly disagreeing with the government's position. They claim that this violates their First Amendment rights. Additionally, the lawsuits also raise broader concerns about due process and the seizure of private property without just compensation under the Fifth Amendment.

Commitment to Negotiations

Despite the legal challenges, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra reaffirmed the administration's commitment to the negotiations, which basically means they will do nothing productive. Becerra pointed out that pharmaceutical companies have made substantial profits for decades and criticized their efforts to block the administration's work on better drug prices. He stated that the negotiations would proceed as planned.

Next Steps and Financial Penalties

HHS will release a list of 10 high-cost drugs selected for negotiation by September. Participating companies will then have to decide whether to take part in the negotiations. Opting out of the negotiations comes with severe financial penalties. Companies that choose not to participate can avoid these penalties by terminating their involvement in Medicare and Medicaid drug rebate programs. However, withdrawing from these programs is not seen as a viable option by the industry, as they represent a significant portion of the nation's annual spending on prescription drugs.

Conclusion: The Impact on New Businesses

Hot Take: A Potential Opportunity for New Businesses in the Pharmaceutical Industry

The recent decision by Medicare to allow public disclosure of drug price negotiations has significant implications for the pharmaceutical industry as a whole. However, it also creates potential opportunities for new businesses looking to enter the market.

Leveling the Playing Field

By allowing companies to publicly disclose ongoing negotiations, Medicare is promoting transparency in the drug pricing process. This can help level the playing field for new businesses that have innovative drug offerings but may struggle to compete with dominant pharmaceutical companies. With access to information on price negotiations, new businesses can gain insights into price points, potentially enabling them to position their products competitively.

Increased Competition and Fair Pricing

The open disclosure of drug price negotiations may encourage increased competition within the pharmaceutical industry. New businesses that can leverage this information and offer more affordable alternatives may find themselves well-positioned to disrupt the market. Moreover, with Medicare seeking to control rising drug prices, there may be a greater emphasis on fair pricing, providing new businesses an opportunity to differentiate themselves based on affordability and value.

Challenges and Considerations

While the Medicare policy change offers potential benefits, new businesses must also be aware of the challenges they may face. The pharmaceutical industry is highly regulated, and entering it requires extensive research, development capabilities, and compliance with safety and efficacy standards. Additionally, navigating the negotiations process and establishing partnerships with healthcare providers and insurers will be crucial for success.


The public disclosure of drug price negotiations by Medicare has the potential to shake up the pharmaceutical industry and create opportunities for new businesses. With transparency and fair pricing becoming more important, innovative and agile startups may find openings to disrupt the market. As Medicare continues to prioritize controlling drug prices, new businesses that can offer affordable and valuable alternatives stand to benefit from this evolving landscape. However, it is essential for newly formed businesses to enter the market with a comprehensive understanding of the industry's complexities and be prepared to navigate the challenges ahead.

Article First Published at: https://www.cnbc.com/2023/06/30/medicare-pharma-drug-price-negotiations.html

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