Biogen latest to slam US gov over ‘draconian measures’ of IRA

Biogen’s CEO says the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is causing drugmakers uncertainty and could follow fellow biopharma Merck in suing the US government. 

President Biden signed the IRA into law last August with the intention to minimize inflationary pressures and avoid a potential recession by boosting clean energy, strengthening supply chains, and increasing tax revenues. 

The IRA also aims to reduce healthcare costs by expanding premium subsidies in the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) marketplaces and decreasing prescription drug prices. Chris Viehbacher, Biogen CEO, told delegates at the BIO International Convention in Boston, Massachusetts yesterday the introduction of the IRA means there is now a “lot more uncertainty” in the biopharma space “because we do not know how the IRA is going to work.”

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Additionally, he said the law is “going to impact research and development, including how it is researched and where.”  

Others in the industry share the same view as Viehbacher. At Bio Europe Spring in March, David Thomas, VP of Industry Research at lobby group the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), said the IRA is a “penalty on success” and will align the US pharma market more closely with its European counterpart and stifle innovation. 


While biotech companies speak out about their dissatisfaction, Merck & Co. (known as MSD outside of North America) has taken it a step further and challenged the US government.  

The drugmaker sued the US government on Tuesday in an attempt to stop the Medicare drug price negotiation program. The company said the IRA program abuses the Fifth and First Amendments to the US Constitution.  

Viehbacher agreed with Merck and said the firm is “accurate” in calling out the IRA for extortion. Moreover, he referenced the “draconian measures [implemented by] the IRA if you choose not to negotiate.”  

When asked on-stage if Biogen would consider filing a lawsuit against the IRA, Viehbacher told the audience “I think we will look at it.”