THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everyone. Good afternoon. Please have a seat. Good afternoon. It’s a room full of leaders.
Well, thank you, everyone, for being here and for all the work that you have done leading up to today.
I want to thank, of course, our nation’s champion, President Biden, for your leadership and commitment to lowering costs for working families in every way.
Thank you to all of the members of Congress for the work that you have done and continue to do to help us achieve this type of progress.
So, we are here today with the firm belief that in the United States of America, no senior should ever have to choose between whether they are able to fill a prescription or fill their refrigerator with food. But for — yes. Yeah.
Because we know, for years, far too many of our seniors — millions of our seniors across the country have struggled to afford their prescriptions.
And too many of our seniors risked their health as they may have delayed refilling their prescription or they cut their pills in half to try and stretch out the length of time that they could take their medication.
So, since we took office, President Biden and I and our administration has taken historic — historic action to cut the cost of prescription medication for our seniors.
We capped the cost of insulin at $35 a month. (Applause.) Yes.
We will cap the total cost of prescription drugs at $2,000 a year. (Applause.)
And we have made vaccines free of charge, which will save seniors hundreds of dollars every year. Yes.
And we finally allowed Medicare to negotiate the price of medications with Big Pharma companies — to the benefit of 65 million Americans at least.
And as many of you know — we’ve worked together — over the course of my career, I’ve seen the stakes of this fight firsthand. When I was attorney general of California, I met with countless families who were often quietly suffering because they or a loved one could not afford the medication they needed and were prescribed.
I investigated drugmakers that tried to stop production of cheaper, generic versions of their drugs, and we held them accountable. And we intervened in the merger of hospitals that could’ve resulted in less competition or increased cost for their patients.
All that to say: There are many factors that drive up healthcare costs and make medications more expensive.
And President Biden and I will continue to use every tool at our disposal to bring these costs down.
And we will hold accountable those who try to put profits ahead of the health and well-being of the American people.
And together — and together, we will continue to build a nation where every person, not just the wealthy or well-connected, has the opportunity to thrive and can live a life of dignity after they retire.
So, that includes, of course, our next speaker. Please welcome Steven Hadfield.
Thank you very much.
Further Comments from the White House Press Room
Millions of Americans struggle to afford prescription drugs. We understand that. Far too many Americans have to ration prescriptions, cutting a pill in half or taking a lower dose than they need, because their drugs are simply too expensive.
One in five seniors struggle to pay for prescription drugs. In fact, Americans pay two to three times more for pre- — prescription drugs than citizens in other developed countries.
Meanwhile, Pharma has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to stop Medicare from negotiating lower costs. In fact, years ago, they got a special carveout that prohibited drug negotiation and allowed Pharma to charge whatever they could.
For decades, we’ve been talking about giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices. President Biden actually got it done. Under the Inflation Reduction Act, finally, Medicare will be able to negotiate lower prescription drug costs for seniors and other beneficiaries.
This is a historic victory. In fact, over 80 percent of the public supports giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower prescription drug costs.
Today, as Karine pointed out, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced the first 10 drugs selected for Medicare price negotiation. These 10 drugs are taken by 9 million seniors. They cover chronic conditions like cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes that can cost up to $14,000 per month.
For example, over half a million Medicare beneficiaries rely on one of these drugs, Entresto, to treat their heart disease. These — this drug costs less than $150 in Australia and over $300 here in the U.S.
Imbruvica, one of the selected drugs that treat cancer, costs $6,000 a month in France. In the United States, it’s almost $14,000 a month — more than double.
Last year, about 9 million Medicare beneficiaries spent over $3.4 billion on these 10 drugs.
An additional 15 drugs will be selected for negotiation each of the next two years and then 20 drugs a year going forward.
Allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prices will bring more cost savings to American families. It will give them breathing room and peace of mind. It will make a real difference for millions of Americans.