The Alliance

The Weekly Dose | 05.24.19

May 24, 2019 12:20 pm

Lawmakers moved into the Memorial Day recess with a bang. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions released a draft bill that aims to address several issues, including how to ensure drug manufacturer rebates make it into the pockets of consumers. As lawmakers take a breath over the next few days to mark the holiday and determine whether to support this bill, we urge them to read a new Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) report.


In drug-pricing hearings this winter and spring, it’s been easy to come away with the impression that the bills and rules Washington is considering will impact only a few large, well-capitalized companies. Not so. BIO explains that when it comes to Alzheimer’s disease, for example, more than three-quarters of the treatments in development are from small companies.


These companies, their scientists and investors face steep odds – there are currently no FDA-approved disease-modifying drugs for Alzheimer’s disease, after all. Most also have never seen a drug come to market. There are no profits to speak of, and nothing has been spent on advertisements. That’s a fact lawmakers must remember as it contemplates the Senate HELP Committee bill, and all other legislation that comes their way. 


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Patrick O’Connor – Executive Director

Rosemarie Calabro Tully – Communications Director




There are ~326 #ClinicalTrials for @Alzheimers. But there still isn't a cure & according to @alzassociation, more funding is needed. #Drug manufacturers contribute ~60% of R&D funding; #DrugPricing policies must ensure this funding remains incentivized. Click here to RT.

In addition to saving lives, #innovative new medicines can dramatically reduce long-term #healthcare costs. Promising treatments to delay the onset of #Alzheimers could save @CMSGov more than $200 billion annually by 2050. Learn more: #DrugPricing Click here to RT.

“The cost of R&D and of #clinicaltrials is immense. The incentives for #drug development in this space are working, but scaring companies away from investing does not serve the #patients who benefit from #innovation." - @michaelcburgess at the @EnergyCommerce #SubHealth hearing Click here to RT.



Unpacking New Data on Drug Spending. The Altarum Center for Value in Health Care last week released its monthly examination of health-care spending in the United States. … Here’s how POLITICO’s “Morning Pulse” summarized the data: “Health-care prices continue to grow at ‘amazingly low’ rates. Year-over-year health care price growth was 1.5 percent.” What is driving the slow rate of increase? As POLITICO explained, “[L]ow drug-price growth.” Read the full blog post here.

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

- Most Americans Find It “Easy” to Pay for Prescription Medications

- Context On Medicaid Outpatient Prescription Drug Costs

- The Arnolds Start a Podcast … And Get A Lot Wrong



The Innovative Mindset Of The Pharmaceutical Sector. In an article advising companies how to create a healthy culture of innovation, Fast Company notes, “Take drug companies: They may create a drug that aims to treat one thing, only to find out during clinical trials that it’s effective at treating something else. But in those cases, they’re not closing themselves off to an unexpected result. They’re opening their aperture to see other opportunities that might present themselves.”

Draft Senate Bill Targets Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs). Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) this week introduced drug pricing legislation. STAT News explains the bill, which only is a draft at this point, would ban spread pricing, mandate that PBMs report additional information to their client (including the net and list price for each drug and the amount of the rebates they receive and require PBMs to pass on 100 percent of the rebates or discounts on to patients. Meanwhile, The Columbus Dispatch notes PBMs are fighting efforts to increase transparency. (American Action Forum President Douglas Holtz-Eakin disagrees.)

Mental Health Expert: International Pricing Index Would Reduce Access To Care. At The North State Journal, Michelle Laws, director of Policy and Public Advocacy for the National Alliance On Mental Illness-North Carolina, explains why she opposes the International Pricing Index. She says, “Switching to a methodology that relies on the systems of 14 foreign countries that are known to mandate lower prices would set Medicare patients up for the same problem many patients in other countries face — reduced access to the most effective treatments because their health-care systems won’t pay a fair price.”

New Generic For Insulin. The Associated Press and multiple other news outlets reported “A half-price version of Eli Lilly’s popular Humalog insulin is now available, following the company’s promise in March to offer diabetics a more affordable option amid fierce criticism of soaring insulin prices.”

Research In Search Of Alzheimer’s Disease Treatments, Cure. Axios this highlighted the need, and search for, treatments for Alzheimer’s disease: “There are currently 5.7 million Americans living with the disease — and 14 million more are expected to develop it by 2050 — all of whom are desperately seeking answers. … There are roughly 326 active, recruiting or enrolling by invitation clinical trials on the elusive disease, per”

Innovation Withers When Firms Are “Financial Disincentivized.” At Forbes Nicole Fisher, founder and president of Health and Human Rights Strategies, explains, “In the U.S., antimicrobial resistance causes more than 2 million infections and 23,000 deaths per year. Financially, it is projected that due to lost wages, hospital stays and premature death, the U.S. lost about $35 billion in 2008 to antibiotic-resistant infections, and this number continues to rise.” Even more frightening, Fisher says, is the fact that there are few new antibiotics in development because “the private sector is financially disincentivized to create new antibiotics.”



Citizens Against Government Waste’s Elizabeth Wright explains how federal government prices controls will affect innovation in America:

“When it comes to biopharmaceutical research and development, the U.S is number one at 58 percent.  The closest competitor, Japan, is at 13 percent.  In Europe, the country that undertakes the most biopharmaceutical research is the United Kingdom, at 7 percent.  These figures prove that government price controls are one of the most destructive forces to innovation.”

Related: Citizens Against Government Waste also explains why binding arbitration is a bad idea.