The Alliance

The Weekly Dose | 07.19.19

July 19, 2019 2:51 pm

Drug importation became an issue this week on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border. While U.S. presidential candidates Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) argued Americans should be able to buy drugs from Canada, Canadians officials have started to push back. According to Reuters, talking points developed by the country’s foreign ministry outline Canada’s “clear” opposition to the idea. The points reportedly warn U.S. officials that “importing drugs from Canada is probably not your silver bullet.”


As we have explained in this blog post, it is not. In fact, because many drugs sold in Canada are not actually manufactured there, this idea could harm consumers on both sides of the border.


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Patrick O’Connor – Executive Director

Rosemarie Calabro Tully – Communications Director




If American #drugprices dropped to overseas levels, U.S. pharma revenue would decline by $134 bil. Using some back of the envelope math, we estimated that w/ a revenue drop like that, there would be at least FOUR DOZEN fewer #drug breakthroughs each year. Click here to RT.

#ThursdayThoughts: #PBMs will continue to amass millions in undisclosed profits from rebates intended for #patients while biotech companies continue to fund extensive R&D to discover life-changing medical #innovations. Click here to RT.

#TBT to the @axios report, which found pharma companies in 2017 spent a record $71.4 bil on R&D. Looking at the U.S.’ largest #drug manufacturers, @mikeallen found they “generally spend more money on research than they keep in profits.” #WednesdayWisdom Click here to RT.



Check out and share on Twitter our latest blog posts:

An Unbalanced Debate. On July 24-25, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) will convene a two-day workshop to discuss “the role of NIH in drug development innovation and its impact on patient access.” But don’t expect a balanced event. The seminar has one sponsor—the John and Laura Arnold Foundation—and they have hand-selected several panelists who share their perspective. In fact, the sixth session is stacked almost entirely with individuals who receive funding from the Arnolds. Click here to read the full blog post. Share on Twitter here.

NYU Medical Professor: “Sick Patients Deserve the Rebates.” In 2018, drug manufacturers paid $166 billion in rebates and discounts, amounting to a 40 percent reduction in prices for off-brand drugs. Who should benefit from these rebates? Click here to read the full blog post. Share on Twitter here.

Unfortunately … With Rebate Rule Gone, Patients Will Suffer. The Trump administration has killed a draft regulation that would have ensured that the millions of dollars in rebates that drug manufacturers provide to pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) via Medicare are passed on to consumers. Axios called the news “very good news for insurers and PBMs.” It obviously is not good news for patients. Click here to read the full blog post. Share on Twitter here.



Biopharmaceutical Industry Spent Nearly $100 Billion On Research And Development In 2017. According to the 2019 PhRMA member annual survey, it is estimated the U.S. biopharmaceutical industry spent $97 billion on research and development in 2017, the latest figure available. The survey also found $1 out of every $5 in revenue is spent on research and development.

Potential Presidential Executive Order Threatens Personalized Medicine. President Donald Trump recently threatened to issue an executive order that would require medications be sold to the federal government at the lowest price found across the globe. In STAT News, Edward Abrahams, president of the Personalized Medicine Coalition, argues this policy “will likely discourage the pharmaceutical industry from making investments in personalized and targeted therapies that address the root causes of diseases rather than merely treating their symptoms.” He also says the ordered, if implemented, would “slow the discovery of treatments for diseases that affect small numbers of patients for whom there are no effective medicines by making it even more difficult for pharmaceutical companies to get returns on their ongoing investments in therapies aimed at subpopulations of patients.”

Canadian Officials Tell Americans To Back Off Importation Plans. According to Reuters, “Canada opposes any U.S. plans to buy Canadian prescription drugs that might threaten the country’s drug supply or raise costs for its own citizens, officials have told U.S. authorities. … Canadian opposition is a problem for U.S. lawmakers, who have argued they can lower sky-high prescription drug prices by approving imports from Canada, where prices are lower.”

Cancer “Vaccine” Shows Promise In Small Study. According to STAT News, “the largest study to date of a ‘cancer vaccine’ plus one of the immunotherapy drugs that has revolutionized cancer treatment found that they kept patients’ tumors in check longer, on average, than drugs alone, but that the benefit was still only a few months for two forms of cancer. … It was a hint that an experimental therapy often described as the next great hope for immune-based approaches to fighting cancer will not be a silver bullet.”

Feeling Stressed? Scientists Are Working On A Vaccine To Eliminate Depression, Anxiety And Stress. Vice reports, “Christopher Lowry, a behavioral neuro-endocrinologist at University of Colorado Boulder, envisions a future where an immunization could be given to protect against inflammation-caused mental health disturbances. In a series of studies over the past decade, Lowry and his collaborators have shown in animal models that a particular soil bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae (or M. vaccae), can reduce inflammation and the troubling behavioral symptoms that come with it.”



In The Orange County Register, Emory University Professor of Health Policy Kenneth Thorpe explains the deadly consequences of importing foreign price controls on drugs:

“Patients in the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, and the other countries … waited a median of 14 months to access each new drug released between 2011 and 2018. The wait was even longer for new oncology medicines. Meanwhile, roughly 90 percent of these medicines were immediately available to Americans. If HHS’ plan takes effect, delays like this will become commonplace in the United States. That could be a death sentence for patients with late-stage cancers and other serious diseases. Timely treatment is essential for survival.”



July 22, 2 p.m.: The Brookings Institution

Location: Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue N.W. Washington, DC 20036

Topic: Louisiana’s Prescription Drug Experiment: A Model For The Nation?

Agenda: The Brookings Institution’s Hutchins Center on Fiscal & Monetary Policy and the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy will co-host a discussion regarding Louisiana’s approach to increasing prescription drug affordability. Featured speakers include Louisiana Secretary of Health Rebekah Gee and Wendell Primus, senior advisor to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, whose office is currently working on legislation to lower prescription drug prices.

Contact: (202) 797-6105



July 26, 9:30 a.m.: House Committee on Oversight and Reform

Location: 2154 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC

Topic: The Patient Perspective: The Devastating Impacts of Skyrocketing Drug Prices on American Families

Agenda: Unknown

Contact: (202) 225-5051