The Alliance

The Weekly Dose | 03.01.19

March 1, 2019 12:30 pm

While some activists, editorialists and candidates were looking for fireworks at this past Tuesday’s Senate Finance hearing, we agree with Bloomberg’s assessment: “What emerged was a broad recognition that the U.S. healthcare system is complex, and that easy fixes are in short supply.” Committee members acknowledged the cost of innovation, the downstream savings produced by breakthrough treatments and the negative consequences of ill-considered policy proposals.


They also revealed a growing appetite to examine the role of pharmacy benefit managers in the supply chain. We look forward to that hearing.


In the meantime, have questions? Need more info for a story? Email us. We look forward to working with you.



Patrick O’Connor – Executive Director

Rosemarie Calabro Tully – Communications Director



 APMI Executive Director Patrick O’Connor released a statement regarding the U.S. Senate Committee’s hearing this past Tuesday:

 “Today’s Senate Finance hearing provided an important platform for the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies to explain the complexity of America’s prescription-drug market. Any meaningful reform needs to include everyone involved in this multilayered supply chain. The CEOs outlined a number of ways to make the system more efficient without sacrificing innovation or patients’ access to the treatments they need.”



 Did you know? Universities depend on funding from biopharmaceutical firms to develop new medicines. In 2017 alone, these firms gave over $2.5 bil in R&D funding to U.S. universities - about 60% of all industry funding.

 As someone with a rare disease, @jeantw62 offers her perspective: The argument against “bad pharma” doesn't take into account #patients “with #cancer or other devastating illnesses who, thanks to biopharmaceutical companies, are alive today.”

 With a #QALY system, a #cancer drug that provides "only" 8 extra months of life won't get a perfect score. But to a cancer #patient, a #drug that delivers 8 more months of life can be worth absolutely everything. Why else should the U.S. avoid QALYs?



Truth Behind the Buzzwords. “Evergreening” and “secondary patents” are fine buzzwords, but the fact is, without a strong patent system that honors follow-on innovation and protects intellectual property, fewer investors would allocate funds toward potentially life-saving discoveries and fewer innovators would be willing to work in this field. And Americans would suffer. Read the full blog post here.

In case you missed them, here are some other recent posts on the APMI blog:

 - Private Sector Drives Drug Research

 - Who Shares Drug Profits

 - America The Innovator



New Cancer Treatment Credited With Saving Toddler’s Life. The Wall Street Journal tells the story of how new cancer treatments have given hope to 3-year-old Michelle Lowry and her family. Michelle’s mom said, “One of the Charles Koch Foundation's core principles is openness, which is a hallmark of prosperous communities and forms the cornerstone of societies where all individuals can flourish.”

Drug Price Predictions For 2020. According to Health Payer Intelligence, Premier Inc. predicts a 3.8 percent rate of inflation for prescription drug prices in plan year 2020, an estimate that “is 0.4 percent lower than its predictions for plan year 2019” and indicates “efforts to control prescription drug spending may be producing a positive effect.”

Just Say No To QALY. Alliance for Aging Research President and CEO Susan Peschin argues in The Hill that cost-effectiveness models like those used by ICER discriminate against senior citizens and people with disabilities. Peschin notes, “The U.S. has repeatedly rejected QALYs and similar assessments as the basis for making drug coverage and reimbursement decisions.”

Another State, Another Account Of PBMs Lining Their Pockets. Bloomberg reported last week that pharmacy benefit managers pocketed $123.5 million in hidden fees from the Kentucky Medicaid program. Meanwhile, at Morning Consult, Dr. A. Mark Fendrick, director of the Center for Value-Based Insurance Design at the University of Michigan, and Patient Access Network Foundation President and CEO Dan Klein, explain why the federal government needs to rein in PBMs.

Maybe It’s Time To End PBM Rebates For Good. While states crack down on PBMs, Biotechnology Innovation Organization CEO Jim Greenwood told Fox Business that “in order to lower drug prices we need to eliminate the rebates program that pharmacy benefit managers negotiate.”



Bloomberg reviews this week’s U.S. Senate Finance Committee hearing on drug prices:

“A highly anticipated Senate hearing on surging drug prices that was billed as a replay of a decades-ago public reckoning for the tobacco industry produced few memorable fireworks. Instead, what emerged was a broad recognition that the U.S. health-care system is complex, and that easy fixes are in short supply.”


Writing in the San Antonio Express-News, Dr. Jane Lindell Hughes, a practicing ophthalmologist and a clinical professor at UT Health San Antonio, explains her opposition to HHS’ proposal to tie U.S. drug prices to those in other country:

It “could also threaten prescription drug availability. If drug manufacturers can’t match the price demanded by these foreign governments, that drug simply won’t be offered in that health care system. According to a recent analysis, only two-thirds of newly released medications are available in the U.K, half in Canada and one-third in Australia. … Even for covered drugs, patients in other countries had to wait an average of 16 months after their launch to access them. No wonder Britain has higher cancer mortality rates than the U.S.”




March 7, 2019, 9 a.m. ET: House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee hearing

Location: 1100 Longworth House Office Building

Topic: “Promoting Competition to Lower Medicare Drug Prices”


 - Robin Feldman, Director of the Institute for Innovation Law, UC Hastings School of Law

 - Ameet Sarpatwari, Assistant Director of the Program on Regulation, Therapeutics, and Law (PORTAL), Harvard Medical School

 - Amy Kapczynski, Co-Director of the Global Health Justice Partnership, Yale Law School

 - Frederick Isasi, Executive Director, Families USA

  - Douglass Holtz-Eakin, American Action Forum

Contact: 202-225-3625



March 7, 2019, 2 p.m. ET: House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law hearing

Location: 2141 Rayburn House Office Building

Topic: “Diagnosing the Problem: Exploring the Effects of Consolidation and Anticompetitive Conduct in Health Care Markets”

Agenda: Unknown

Contact: 202-225-3951