Shaheen & Bipartisan Group of Senators Introduce Bill to Expand Coverage for Seniors’ Kidney Transplant Drugs
(Washington, DC) — U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced bipartisan legislation today with Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Todd Young (R-IN) to provide seniors who received kidney transplants with extended Medicare Part B to help cover lifesaving medication. The Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act is the latest bipartisan effort of Senator Shaheen’s to curb skyrocketing prescription drug costs for American families.
Transplant recipients require immunosuppressive drugs to keep the body from rejecting a new organ. Current law only covers Medicare Part B kidney transplant recipients for 36 months after a transplant occurs, meaning patients who lack other coverage after 36 months would have to cover the costs out of pocket. Many people ration their medications or stop taking their drugs and end up back in kidney failure and on dialysis. The Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act (S 3353) would do away with that time limit ensuring that individuals who received a kidney transplant paid for by Medicare do not have to worry about coverage for medications and protect their transplant.
“Kidney transplants can give seniors suffering from serious kidney disease a new lease on life, but the medication they need to help ensure the surgery is successful is too often out of reach due to high costs,” said Shaheen. “This important legislation will help make sure Medicare patients are able to access these lifesaving drugs, avoid financial burden and focus on their recovery.”
Last month, Shaheen partnered with Senator Cassidy on the Fairness in Orphan Drug Exclusivity Act, which would close the orphan drug loophole that drug companies use to keep competition off the market and rake in profits. Shaheen has continuously worked to prevent drug manufacturers from abusing the drug approval process to limit market competition. Following reports that the manufacturer of buprenorphine, which is used to treat those suffering from opioid-related substance use disorder in medication-assisted treatment (MAT), was attempting to use the orphan drug approval process to secure an additional seven years of exclusivity and block potentially cheaper generic versions of the medication from appearing on the market, Shaheen sent a letter to the FDA calling on the agency to prevent the manufacturer from abusing the system. As a result of Shaheen’s actions, the FDA revoked buprenorphine’s orphan drug status.
Bill text for S 3353 can be found here.