Drugmakers agree to Medicare price talks 

The drugmakers behind the first 10 medications selected by CMS for Medicare price negotiations have all agreed to participate in the program, the agency said Oct. 3.

CMS announced the 10 drugs selected for the first round of negotiations through the agency's Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Program on Aug. 29. The drugmakers who manufacture these medications — which include Bristol Myers Squibb, Merck, Novo Nordisk and AstraZeneca — had until Oct. 1 to sign an agreement with CMS.

The drugmakers and CMS will now engage in price talks to set maximum fair prices for the medications. CMS will publish the set prices by Sept. 1, 2024, and prices will take effect in 2026.

The update comes as drugmakers and industry groups nationwide are fighting against drug price negotiations. At least nine separate lawsuits have been filed in the U.S. since the Inflation Reduction Act, which mandated the negotiations, took effect in August 2022, according to The HiIl.

Merck told CNN it signed the agreement "under protest," while Bristol Myers Squibb said it felt compelled to sign.  

"If we did not sign, we'd be required to pay impossibly high penalties unless we withdraw all of our medicines from Medicare and Medicaid," a spokesperson said. "That is not a real choice."

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