As the New York Post recently pointed out, while national spending on retail prescription drugs rose only 0.4 percent in 2017, hospital care costs have surged 19 percent in only four years. Here is another way of looking at these numbers: according to this blog post from PhRMA, the United States spends three times more per person on hospital care than on retail prescription medicines.
Still, as The Wall Street Journal editorial board said this week, lawmakers in both parties have made drug companies “the punching bag.” As we have said before, political points won’t cure patients. Lawmakers need to look at the full health-care picture to solve what ails the system.
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Patrick O’Connor – Executive Director
Rosemarie Calabro Tully – Communications Director
TWEETS OF THE WEEK
- .@RepMullin is rightfully “lukewarm” about the price controls and #drug importation plans currently bouncing around Washington. As he argued last week, “less regulation, not more, is the key to unlocking lower #prescriptiondrug prices.” https://bit.ly/2TVfzdN #drugprices Click here to RT.
- In 2004, it cost roughly $800 million to bring a new drug to market. Now, that price has ballooned to more than $2 billion. Before we propose policies that stifle R&D, we need to tackle the FDA's exorbitant costs of #drug approval. https://bit.ly/2ZcXRZe #drugprices #innovation Click here to RT.
- This AM on @cspanwj, @IAmBiotech Pres/CEO @JimGreenwood discussed @NIH’s role in #drug research & development. While still important, NIH contributions are "like the first mile of a marathon. The next 25 miles are run by [#drug] companies." Watch here: https://cs.pn/33SvnTe Click here to RT.
THE STORIES THAT DIDN’T GET ENOUGH ATTENTION
Check out and share on Twitter our latest blog posts:
- Arnold-Funded Sickle Cell Report Filled With Errors. Last week we examined misstatements made by Patients for Affordable Drugs (P4AD) founder and President David Mitchell, including a claim about taxpayer-funded research. It will come as no surprise that Mitchell’s rhetoric permeates a recent P4AD report on research into treatments for sickle cell disease. We examine. Click here to read the full blog post. Share on Twitter here.
- The Worth of a Thing is What it Will Bring. Even if medications are of “enormous worth to a disabled person, that value is never truly captured” because most therapies won’t ever restore a disabled person to perfect #health. ICER has many issues, including neglecting patients in the decision process. Click here to read the full blog post. Share on Twitter here.
- Drug-Pricing Proposals Should Worry Patients Looking for a Cure. Whether it’s through stripping important patents, imposing foreign reference pricing, or placing arbitrary limits on drug prices, certain policy proposals threaten to smother innovation and reduce access to lifesaving care, leaving #patients worse-off. Click here to read the full blog post. Share on Twitter here.
WHAT WE’RE READING
- Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) Are Putting Independent Pharmacists Out Of Business. Hudson Valley’s Times Herald-Record explains that PBMs “steer customers toward their affiliated pharmacies” and are putting independent pharmacists out of business. Monique Whitney, executive director of Pharmacists United for Truth and Transparency, told the newspapers that the closures have “become an epidemic” and that “it’s become too difficult as an independent pharmacy to work within the PBM framework.” The owner of one small pharmacy said PBMs are “dictating the rules of the game” in order to gain market share.
- Inflation Caps Will Lead To Higher List Prices. The U.S. Senate’s drug-pricing legislation would cap Medicare Part D drug prices to inflation, or innovators would face penalties. In an editorial, The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) explained this provision “will cause companies to launch drugs at higher prices. Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has pointed out that companies could react by treating inflation as the floor and ceiling of politically acceptable price increases. In other words, companies might increase prices every year up to the point of inflation, regardless of market realities.”
- Drug Importation Will Harm American Senior Citizens. In the Orlando Sentinel, American Senior Alliance Executive Director Conwell Hooper explains why his organization opposes drug importation. He says, “By importing medicines from countries that do not have our same high-quality standards could easily taint our medicine supply chain. A recent CNN article, ‘Fake Drugs, The Global Industry Putting Your Life at Risk,’ crystallized our message when it said, ‘The manufacture and distribution of medicines today is a complex, globalized affair that it is often hard to track where fake or substandard medicines come from and where they go.’” Hooper also noted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimates “99.1 percent of drug products entering the U.S. through international mail in 2019 is non-compliant with agency standards.”
- International Pricing Index (IPI) Would Harm Seniors With HIV, AIDS. Writing in the Worcester, Mass. Telegram, Carl Sciortino explains how price controls like the IPI would harm Americans living with HIV and AIDS. He notes “the federal Department of Commerce estimates that foreign pricing policies – which are also under consideration by HHS and Congress – could decrease private sector investment in medical research and development by as much as 16 percent, not just here in the U.S. but worldwide. That is an unacceptable reality. The important role HIV medications play in helping patients live and thrive as they age, as well as its importance in preventing new infections, demonstrates the need for policies that protect access to these crucial antiretroviral medications and foster new medical discoveries.”
- IPI: Lower Life Expectancy, Fewer New Drugs. Pacific Research Institute President and CEO Sally Pipes reminds readers, “One RAND study concluded that price controls would cut people's life expectancies by substantially reducing investment in new drugs. Another analysis found that reducing drug prices by between 40-50 percent would result in 60 percent fewer research projects being undertaken.”
QUOTATION OF THE WEEK
At CNN Business, Randall Rutta, former president and CEO of Easterseals, explains how proposed changes to the patent system would reduce innovation:
“The proposed reforms by some lawmakers are dangerously misguided – and have major consequences for patients in need. Few investors would take a risk on a new line of research – and companies would be challenged to let their scientists work on improving existing medicines -- if intellectual property laws are weakened.”