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National MS Society Comments on President Trump’s Prescription Drug Blueprint

July 25, 2018

In May, President Trump presented his Administration’s Blueprint to reduce prescription drug prices titled “American Patients First: A Trump Administration Blueprint to Lower Drug Prices and Reduce Out-of-Pocket Costs.” On July 16, the National MS Society submitted comments on the Administration’s Blueprint and also joined with the Patient Access Network Foundation and the MapRx coalition’s comments responding to the Blueprint.

In 2016, the Society convened an Advisory Committee on Access to MS Medications. Comprised of people with MS, family members, health policy experts and healthcare providers, the group developed comprehensive recommendations to make access to MS medications more affordable and the process for getting them simple and transparent. These recommendations inform all policy positions that the Society takes regarding access to prescription drugs and prices, including our comments on the Blueprint.

The Society appreciates the Administration’s desire to tackle the complex issue of rising prescription drug costs, but the Blueprint lacks sufficient detail to know whether the proposed solutions will result in meaningful reform to reverse the trend of rising prescription drug costs. In its comments, the Society provided context and recommendations for how several of the proposals could have a greater impact for people with MS. Among others, the Society highlighted the following areas where Congress and the Administration could take additional actions to combat skyrocketing prescription drug costs:
  • Bringing greater transparency to the prescription drug supply chain to enable consumers to make more informed healthcare decisions;
  • Implementing an out-of-pocket maximum for prescription drugs;
  • Incentivizing generic drugs and biosimilar medications and eliminating cost-sharing on generic drugs for low-income Medicare beneficiaries; 
  • Allowing price negotiation between the Department of Health and Human Services and manufacturers; 
  • Eliminating the “gag” clause in Pharmacy Benefit Manager contracts so that consumers can learn whether there are lower cost alternatives to accessing their medications; and
  • Passing on some or all of the benefit of prescription drug rebates to the patient.
The Society believes that leadership from all involved stakeholders—including pharmaceutical companies, insurance providers, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), specialty pharmacies, healthcare providers, policy makers and people with MS—must work together to ensure that people with MS have access to the medications they need to live their best lives. We look forward to working with the Administration and other stakeholders as concepts from the Blueprint advance.

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.

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