From the White House blog, “A Significant Breakthrough to Assist Our Seniors“:

Today, the President announced a landmark agreement with pharmaceutical companies, who pledged $80 billion in prescription drug discounts over the next 10 years. …[snip]

The President was joined by Senators Max Baucus and Chris Dodd, and introduced by AARP President Barry Rand, who called the plan a “new opportunity” for those who have been burdened by the costs of prescription drugs.

The agreement, which was reached between Sen. Baucus, Administration officials, and the nation’s pharmaceutical companies, will ultimately reduce the price of prescription drugs by half for millions of America’s seniors. As part of the upcoming health care reform legislation, drug manufacturers that participate in Medicare Part D will either pay a rebate to Medicare or offer a substantial discount of at least 50 percent on prescription drugs to seniors who fall within the infamous “doughnut hole”— payments between $2700 and $6153.75 not covered by Medicare. The deal will help close this unfair gap in coverage, providing relief for millions of seniors who have been burdened by these out-of-pocket expenses, making it easier for them to get the prescriptions that they need.

In addition to providing half-price discounts, the pharmaceutical companies will offer other discounts and savings to total an $80 billion reduction in costs.

The blog posts a photo of the President making the announcement flanked by Rand, Dodd and Baucus.

Hope the pharmaceutical industry leaders got their photo op, too. The agreement wouldn’t have been possible without their involvement, negotiation and agreement.

Here’s a statement from Billy Tauzin, President and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), on the announcement. Excerpt:

With the strong support of AARP, we believe this agreement will be looked back in time as a momentum changer in the legislative efforts to reform our troubled health care system. Our $80 billion pledge toward that goal represents a huge financial commitment by America’s pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies. But we have a shared vision: every single person in America, regardless of their income, should have access to affordable, high-quality health care coverage and services.

More…

UPDATE: Here’s a transcript of the President’s statement. And his thanks to the pharmaceutical industry: “And I’m grateful to all those who helped make this day possible.”

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