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Photo: Mustafa Ciftci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Higher prices are the main reason why Medicare spending on drugs has exploded over the past decade, and the government should finally do something about it, members of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission said during a meeting Thursday.

Why it matters: MedPAC has argued for Medicare drug pricing reforms for several years, and federal agencies often take their recommendations seriously. But industry opposition has been the primary roadblock to several MedPAC proposals.

Driving the news: MedPAC staffers and commission members highlighted the issues within Medicare Part B, which covers infused and injectable drugs and pays for the drug's average sales price plus a 6% markup.

  • Aduhelm, the controversial Alzheimer's drug, made an appearance on a presentation slide because experts believe the drug's high launch price combined with current payment policy could decimate Medicare.
  • "If you continue pay [average sales price plus 6%], we can continue to guess what providers are going to do," said David Grabowski, a MedPAC commission member and Harvard health policy professor.

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Oct 20, 2021 - Technology

The AI pharmacist

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Artificial intelligence — the ultimate optimization engine — is meeting one of its biggest challenges: untangling the messy, slow and expensive work of drug development.

Why it matters: Even as computing power has gotten faster and cheaper, drugs remain slow and costly to develop, in part because of the sheer work in selecting a candidate and getting it across the finish line.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Fauci fires back at Rand Paul for slam on tonight's "Axios on HBO"

Responding to charges by Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday's "Axios on HBO," NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "ABC This Week" that it's "molecularly impossible" for U.S.-funded bat virus research in China to have produced COVID-19.

Why it matters: The issue 0f Wuhan research was reignited on the right last week with a National Institutes of Health letter to Congress disclosing more about the research.

Manchin, Schumer huddle with Biden in Delaware to discuss spending bill

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (L) and Sen. Joe Manchin (R) at the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 13, 2014. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will meet with President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday morning in Delaware as Democrats look to reach an agreement on the massive spending measure.

Driving the news: Democrats are still negotiating what to keep in the bill and how to pay for it, with Biden saying on Thursday that the party does not have the votes to raise the corporate tax rate.