The Alliance

The Weekly Dose | 05.22.20

May 22, 2020 11:45 am

While negotiations over the next COVID-19 spending bill will take up most of federal lawmakers’ time in June, the debate over drug pricing has not gone away. In fact, according to The Hill, President Donald Trump told Republican senators during a meeting on Tuesday that he still wants congressional action on the topic this year.


If you need a refresher on this debate, or more info about the legislation or regulations that have been proposed, please email us. We look forward to working with you.



Patrick O’Connor – Executive Director

Rosemarie Calabro Tully – Communications Director




- Our top quote of the week, from @SallyPipes, in Michigan’s @pressandguide: We hope lawmakers “reconsider proposals that would cripple one of America's largest and most innovative industries — and leave #patients without the lifesaving drugs they need.” Click here to RT.  


- In a surprise – but welcome – move, Maryland @GovLarryHogan vetoed a so-called “Prescription Drug Affordability Board.” Such a board would have stifled choice for #patients and #innovation for drug companies. Click here to RT.


- #COVID19 has threatened small #pharmaceutical companies, who must cut costs and reduce staffing. These cuts stifle crucial #innovation work – and serve as an important reminder that drug companies often wait a long time to earn profit. Click here to RT.




Check out and share on Twitter our latest blog posts:


- Patient Advocates vs. John Arnold. John Arnold has showered at least $60 million “on researchers, patient advocates, and political groups” who are willing to carry his arguments to Congress, the media, and the public. A lot of people, particularly those who represent some of the nation’s most vulnerable patients, are not buying Arnold’s arguments, however, no matter how much he is willing to spend. Click here to read the full blog post.


- What Do the Paycheck Protection Program and Antibiotic Resistance Tell Us About Drug Development? Government policies matter. Congress wields significant power, particularly in an economic downturn. What it does, and what it does not do, will have far-reaching consequences. Indeed, that is the message a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) reportsent to lawmakers. 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.




- International Body Of Pharmacists Does Not Like Price Controls. The Center for Biosimilars reports that the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research has concluded international reference pricing could “stifle investment in new drug products because pharmaceutical companies would earn lower returns and have less money to invest in new medicines.”


- Gilead Increases COVID-19 Donations To U.S. Government. According to STAT News, Gilead Sciences, the drug company behind the experimental COVID-19 therapy remdesivir, has upped the number of doses it's donating to the federal government from 607,000 to around 940,000. Science News provides a broader overview of potential COVID-19 treatments.


- Update On The Hunt For A COVID-19 Vaccine. Reuters reports AstraZeneca has secured manufacturing capacity for nearly 1 billion doses of its potential COVID-19 vaccines, with first deliveries due to begin in September. STAT News says Moderna’s potential vaccine is showing good results in trials, and U.S. immunotherapy company Inovio Pharmaceuticals has announced its vaccine produced protective antibodies and immune system responses in mice and guinea pigs. The Wall Street Journal editorial board examines how quickly vaccine development is proceeding. Wall Street Journal reporter Peter Loftus looks at how quickly Americans could get vaccines once they are approved.


- New Federal Rule Will Raise Patient Costs. PhRMA reports that, “In the midst of increased financial insecurity for Americans due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is shocking the Administration finalized a policy change … allowing insurers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to make it harder for patients to have manufacturer cost-sharing assistance count towards their out-of-pocket caps for medicines.” Learn more here.


- New Hope For Patients With Lung Cancers. Reuters reports Roche Holding AG’s Genentech unit has announced the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the company’s drug Tecentriq as a standalone therapy for an advanced form of lung cancer. The FDA has said two Bristol-Myers Squibb drugs can be used in combination to treat a specific form of lung cancer. Specifically, the FDA will allow the use of Opdivo with Yervoy to treat metastatic non-small cell lung cancer.




Karen Kerrigan, president and CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, writes:


“We’ve already seen what government price-setting has done to research companies in Europe. Half a century ago, European labs invented the vast majority of medicines, according to a Milken Institute study. That is not the case currently. European governments have imposed ever-stricter price controls, which has contributed to the decline of R&D in Europe. The U.S., by contrast, has largely maintained its market-based approach. That very approach is why companies in America are leading the way on a COVID-19 treatment. Moderna, a small biotech based in Massachusetts, entered human trials for its COVID-19 vaccine only 10 weeks after the virus’s genetic code was sequenced, according to a Guardian report.”