The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced a set of actions to reduce healthcare costs.

US President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) includes measures to reduce the price of certain drugs prescribed to senior citizens and people with disabilities.

The HHS has also introduced updated drug price negotiation guidance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

The guidance is a vital step in executing the IRA’s strategy, which will enable Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices for those receiving its services.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra stated: “The Biden-Harris administration isn’t letting anything get in our way of delivering lower drug costs for Americans.

“Pharmaceutical companies have made record profits for decades. Now they’re lining up to block this administration’s work to negotiate better drug prices for our families.

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“We won’t be deterred. President Biden made it possible for Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices. Today’s action is a critical step in reaching that goal.”

From 2023, Medicare will begin negotiating directly with drug manufacturers to reduce the rate of the high-priced prescription drugs its policies cover.

CMS will reveal the first ten drugs selected for negotiation by 1 September.

The first round of discussions will take place in 2023 and 2024 with the reduced prices effective from 2026.

In March 2023, CMS unveiled initial guidance on the drug price negotiation process to help the agency select drugs for negotiation and the method of conducting those negotiations.

The newly released updated guidance details how CMS will negotiate and come to an agreement on a maximum fair price for a chosen drug with participating manufacturers, thereby ensuring Medicare beneficiaries gain access to new, life-saving treatments at a reduced cost.