The Alliance

The Weekly Dose | 02.21.20

February 21, 2020 1:23 pm

As we have reported in the past, billionaires John and Laura Arnold have provided funding to researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. (More information regarding this support is available here.)


Perhaps that’s why this Detroit News op-ed by Brigham and Women’s Hospital President Dr. Elizabeth G. Nabel, caught our eye. It argues against the price controls that the Arnolds and their network of grantees favor. Dr. Nabel writes, “[O]ur innovation ecosystem is being threatened. In Congress, some lawmakers want to import foreign price controls. Others want to introduce price controls in Medicare. Still others want to allow the federal government to set prices on any medicine whose origin lies in government-funded research. Though doubtlessly well-intentioned, these policy changes could eliminate the financial incentives that allow research scientists to explore new treatments.”


She is right, and if you need more info or context for a story, or have questions, please email us. We look forward to working with you.



Patrick O’Connor – Executive Director

Rosemarie Calabro Tully – Communications Director





- .@DouglasESchoen warns candidates & lawmakers not to embrace the International Pricing Index, citing that ~96% of new #cancer medicines are made available in the US, while the 16 countries used in the IPI only have 55% of new cancer medicines. Via @Forbes: Click here to RT.   


- Regional grocery stores are increasingly selling off/shutting down their pharmacies, the @WSJ Read how @CVSHealth & @Walgreens are capturing the market and providing payouts not to patients, but to #insurers & #PBMs in the form of massive rebates: 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. Via @Health_Affairs: Click here to RT.




Check out and share on Twitter our latest blog posts:


- Are Major Pharmacies And PBMs Putting Patients At Risk? According to a couple of new reports, they are. The first, a report issued by the Florida Pharmacy Association and American Pharmacy Cooperative Inc. last month, confirms PBMs often operate at the expense of patients. Click here to read the full blog post. Share on Twitter here.


- The IPI, H.R. 3, And The Senate Drug-Pricing Bill. An analysis by Vital Transformation found that H.R. 3 could result in the launch of 56 fewer new medicines over 10 years by reducing funding available for research and development. Unfortunately, other drug pricing proposals on the table would have a similar impact. Click here to read the full blog post. Share on Twitter here.


- Arnolds’ $60 Million In Gasoline Fuels Push For Reference Pricing. We heard a lot about billionaires in the Feb. 19 Democratic presidential candidates’ debate. We take a look at the two billionaires who are behind the push to get the United States to peg drug prices to costs in other (less innovative) nations. Click here to read the full blog post. Share on Twitter here.




- Report Overstated “Overstates” Spending On Pharmaceuticals. In a new blog post, PhRMA Manager of Public Affairs Katie Koziara explains that a “recent analysis from the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) on health care spending overestimates medicine spending and pricing and mischaracterizes the true drivers of health care spending in the commercial market. The analysis significantly overstates commercial medicine spending and growth by failing to account for rebates, discounts and other price concessions, which have doubled since 2012, and now lower the list price of brand medicines by 40% on average.”


- Life Expectancy Will Improve In The Coming Years—Because Drug Companies Pour Millions Into R&D. Market Institute President Charles Sauer reminds readers, “Over the next decade, life expectancy is projected to increase by 16 months largely due to drug innovations. New drugs are coming out all the time, and they are seemingly becoming more and more revolutionary every year. This isn’t just due to luck. Drug companies spend 15%-20% of their revenue on research and development.”


- Getting Closer To A Treatment For Coronavirus? Reuters reported last Friday that “an experimental Gilead Sciences antiviral drug prevented disease and reduced the severity of symptoms in monkeys infected with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), an infection closely related to the fast-spreading coronavirus that originated in China.”


- “No Way To Open A Drug Import Channel” Without Violating 2003 Law. An op-ed by Ian Spatz in STAT News reminded workers this week that “Career FDA staff, supported by previous FDA commissioners and Health and Human Services secretaries, have long maintained that there is no way to open a drug import channel into the U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain without violating the 2003 law authorizing Canadian drug imports that required the FDA to certify that importation would create no safety risk to the public.”


- H.R. 3 Isn’t A “Trade-Off,” It’s “A Public Health Disaster.” In the Fergus Falls Daily Journal, PureTech Health Senior Partner Jim LaMattina writes, “Some supporters of the Pelosi plan’s champions have admitted it will devastate drug innovation. As one glowing New York Times editorial put it: ‘Americans will need to accept a trade-off.’ ‘Trade-off.’ That’s quite the euphemism for a public health disaster.”




According to the White House Council of Economic Advisers:


“These practices abroad disproportionately cost U.S. patients and taxpayers because they prevent the United States from undertaking domestic policies to lower drug prices without slowing down the pace at which new and better products enter the market. We find that that if free-riding abroad was reduced and foreign relative drug prices reflected relative GDP per capita, total innovator revenues from those countries would have been $194 billion higher in 2017, raising global revenues by 42 percent. Reducing foreign price controls would increase profits and innovation, thereby leading to greater competition and lower prices for U.S. patients.”