Press Release

Welch Celebrates White House’s Historic Step in Medicare Drug Price Negotiations

Feb 1, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C.Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.) today celebrated the White House’s announcement that it has sent initial negotiation offers through Medicare for the first 10 prescription drugs, selected last August, that are subject to price negotiation under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Pharmaceutical companies have until early March to accept the offers or propose counteroffers. 

“The capacity for Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices is a major breakthrough for so many Vermonters who have been exploited by the exorbitant prices and greed of Big Pharma. It’s disgraceful.” said Sen. Welch. “Today’s first bid by Medicare is an historic first step in our efforts to lower drug costs. Nobody should be forced to make the impossible decision between putting food on the table or paying for the prescriptions they need—that’s why we’re in this fight.” 

Information on the first 10 prescription drugs selected for price negotiations can be found here. They include drugs to treat common illnesses and serious conditions such as blood cancers, blood clots, chronic kidney disease, coronary disease, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, heart failure, peripheral artery disease, psoriasis, psoriatic and rheumatoid arthritis, and ulcerative colitis. 

The Medicare Drug Price negotiation program, a major long-term cost-saving feature of the Inflation Reduction Act, grants Medicare the authority to negotiate pricing for up to 60 medications to help make life-saving drugs more affordable to patients. Provisions from Sen. Welch and Sen. Klobuchar’s bill to end the ban on Medicare negotiating lower prescription drug prices for Medicare’s 50 million seniors, introduced during his tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives, were incorporated into the legislation. 

Senator Welch has long supported initiatives to lower prescription drug prices for Vermonters. This Congress, Senator Welch and Senator Klobuchar introduced the Strengthening Medicare and Reducing Taxpayer (SMART) Prices Act to build on the success of the Inflation Reduction Act to increase the number of drugs eligible for negotiation and enhance ability of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to negotiate lower drug prices for Medicare Part D beneficiaries. 

New legislation led by Sens. Welch, Braun, and Klobuchar codifies the practice that many federal district courts across the country already apply to limit the number of patents or patent claims a company can assert in litigation to lower prescription drug prices for people across the country. 

In September, Senator Welch joined Senate Democratic Colleagues in filing an amicus brief in Merck & Co. v. Becerra in the District Court for the District of Columbia urging the federal court to uphold the constitutionality of Congress allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices for consumers. 

Also in September, the Senator took to the Senate floor to call out Big Pharma’s fear-mongering and scare tactics about Congressional Democrats and the White House’s fight to lower prescription drug costs for seniors.