The Alliance

The Weekly Dose | 01.31.20

January 31, 2020 1:48 pm

While it’s impeachment almost all the time inside the Beltway, on the campaign trail we are seeing more talk of prescription drugs. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reportedly will spend more than $1 million on digital and television ads, and Michael Bloomberg—who is skipping the early Democratic presidential primaries and caucuses—upped his rhetoric this week, too.


We explore Bloomberg’s patent “reform” proposal below, but if you need more info for a story about what’s happen in Washington or on the campaign trail, please email us


We look forward to working with you.



Patrick O’Connor – Executive Director

Rosemarie Calabro Tully – Communications Director




The Worcester Telegram in Massachusetts published a letter to the editor from our Executive Director Patrick O’Connor outlining the dangers of drug importation: “Such a plan would expose Americans to unsafe medications and will do nothing to address the rising health costs that have your readers so anxious.” Click here to read the full letter.




- .@ntlalliancehlth recently reported that employers are growing uneasy about #PBMs and their role in setting #drugprices. Due to poor transparency, some employers question whether drug formularies "benefit them, their employees, or the PBMs.” Click here to RT.  


- The contracts between employers & #PBMs typically specify certain savings, but “often limit employers’ right to audit.” This leads to an overutilization of expensive drugs, higher patient cost sharing, and more employer spending. Click here to RT.


- Having passed in the House, H.R. 3 proposes #pricecontrols on nearly 250 drugs. As @RobAtkinsonITIF’s report explained last year, severe caps on #drug #prices “by definition, [would] mean less revenue for biopharma companies to invest in R&D.” Click here to RT.




Check out and share on Twitter our latest blog posts:


- Michael Bloomberg V. Mark Twain. Mark Twain was an enormous fan of the U.S. patent system and said, without it, the country could not move forward. Michael Bloomberg is less of a fan, at least when it comes to the patent system as it exists for pharmaceutical companies. Here are some facts his campaign should consider. Click here to read the full blog post.


- Drug-Pricing Proposals Should Worry Patients Looking for a Cure. Whether it’s through stripping important patents, imposing foreign reference pricing or placing arbitrary limits on drug prices, certain policy proposals threaten to smother innovation and reduce access to lifesaving care, leaving #patients worse-off. Click here to read the full blog post. Share on Twitter here.


- ITIF Paper: Price Controls Reduce Innovation. The United States always has been the global innovator in the search for new cures. But if price controls are put into effect, we will quickly lose our lead. We look at a new Information Technology and Innovation Foundation paper, which explains why. Click here to read the full blog post. Share on Twitter here.




- Innovation Declined In Europe After Price Controls Were Imposed. Writing in Forbes, Pacific Research Institute Senior Fellow Wayne Winegarden explains: “Today, the U.S. defines the industry, with nearly 60 percent of all new drugs being developed in the United States. Germany, once one of the top global leaders, developed 6 percent of all new drugs. Switzerland, France, and the U.K. are not much more innovative, developing a mere 13 percent, 6 percent, and 8 percent of all new drugs, respectively. This decline in innovation across Europe coincided with the imposition of price controls in these countries. As a result of these regulations, Europe has watched as the well-paying innovative pharmaceutical industry migrated across the Atlantic. Now, the pharmaceutical industry creates hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs in the U.S., not in the EU.”


- Coalition Says IPI Rule Would Restrict Access To Drugs. In a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, more than four dozen organizations asked the Trump administration to withdraw its International Pricing Index regulation. The letter explained: “[F]oreign countries frequently utilize a range of arbitrary and market-distorting policies to determine the cost of medicines – by definition such approaches are price controls. There is no negotiation and foreign governments often force innovators to accept lower prices in a ‘take-it-or-leave it’ proposition. This results in reduced or restricted access to new medicines and higher prices for those medicines that enter the market.”


- Pharmacy Benefit Managers Are “Profiting On All Sides.” Oliver McPherson-Smith and Steve Pociask from the American Consumer Institute take on pharmacy benefit managers in an op-ed in The Hill. The two argued, “That lack of transparency allows PBMs to set insurance plan formularies that maximize their profits, rather than minimizing patient costs, and it encourages a price squeeze on pharmacies, as well as advantaging mail order prescription services that are owned by the PBMs. With PBMs profiting on all sides, price transparency, which will heighten price competition, is the answer to eliminating the abuse by these middlemen.”


- Consolidation Crushing Grocery Pharmacies. The Wall Street Journal reported “Grocery pharmacies are the latest casualty of industry consolidation that has for years been forcing mom-and-pop drugstores to close. … CVS and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., the nation’s biggest players, contributed more than 40 percent of U.S. prescription revenues in 2018, according to Drug Channels Institute, which provides research on the drug supply chain. The chains, which now either own or have partnerships with the biggest insurers and pharmacy-benefit managers, are able to secure better deals on drug costs that largely shut out the industry’s smaller players.”


- New Hope For Patients With A Rare Connective-Tissue Cancer. MedCity News reports the FDA has approved the first drug for a rare form of connective-tissue cancer. Tazverik (tazemetostat), which was developed by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Epizyme, will treat epithelioid sarcoma, or ES, in patients whose disease is ineligible for complete surgical removal.




The Center for Biosimilars spoke to Molly Burich, director of public policy for biosimilars and pipeline at Boehringer Ingelheim, about how the Trump administration’s International Pricing Index (IPI) would impact the availability of life-saving treatments in the United States:


“The United States is generally a leader in first-to-market medicines, and drug prices cannot be pegged to international standards if drugs are not yet available in other countries. Burich cited research that indicated an average lag time of 18 months to 36 months before products introduced in the US market make their appearance elsewhere. ‘Companies make their own decisions, but most countries are behind the United States in terms of having access to products. I don’t think any of us want a system that will lead to delayed access for patients. I think R&D is a hallmark of our country,’ Burich said.”




February 5, 2020, 2 p.m.: House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health

Location: 1100 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C.

Topic: More Cures for More Patients: Overcoming Pharmaceutical Barriers

Contact: 202-225-3625



February 5, 2020, 10 a.m.: Bipartisan Policy Center

Location: Washington Marriott at Metro Center, 775 12th Street NW, Washington, DC, 20005

Topic: Bipartisan Rx for America’s Health Care


- Tom Daschle, fmr. U.S. Senate Majority Leader, co-founder of the Bipartisan Policy Center

- Gail Wilensky, Senior Fellow, Project Hope

- Andy Slavitt, Bipartisan Policy Center

- Shelia Burke, Bipartisan Policy Center

- Jim Capretta, Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute

- Chris Jennings, Bipartisan Policy Center

- Cindy Mann, Partner, Manatt, Phelps & Phillip

- Avik Roy, President and Co-Founder, The Foundations for Research on Equal Opportunity