The Alliance

The Weekly Dose | 09.27.19

September 27, 2019 11:00 am

Other matters took some eyes off this week’s House hearing on Speaker Pelosi’s drug-pricing proposal, as well as the outline Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) released this week.


But we were watching.


As our executive director Patrick O’Connor said before the hearings, both bills are little more than political slogans that will create policy problems. Giving regulators the power to extort drug manufacturers will destroy their incentive to innovate.


Meanwhile, a new report this week from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that annual family premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose 5 percent and now top $20,000, with average annual deductibles double the average of a decade ago. Lawmakers should consider legislation to lower out-of-pocket costs, not drastically disrupt a development pipeline that continues to deliver groundbreaking treatments.


If you need more info about the hearing, or about the proposals outlined in either bill, please email us. We look forward to working with you.



Patrick O’Connor – Executive Director

Rosemarie Calabro Tully – Communications Director




- Some of our peer nations often have access to fewer of the new drugs than here in the US. Despite the lower costs, patients can't access these life-saving drugs. If we share that same #drugpricing model, I worry this could become a reality in our country. -@SusanWBrooks #IPI Click here to RT.  

- [As a pharmacist,] I was the one who had to tell the patient what a medication costs. ... I've seen nothing short of miracles as a result of R&D. But I'm extremely concerned about how the price controls are going to inhibit research and development. -@RepBuddyCarter #drugpricing Click here to RT.

- Early stage investment [in drugs] is by venture capital firms and small biotechs. Those VCs don't have allegiance to the drug market. They're just as happy investing in a new scooter app. The capital is mobile, and that's what we need to keep in mind. -@ben_ippolito #drugpricing Click here to RT.



Check out and share on Twitter our latest blog posts:

- GOP, Progressives, Insurers – All Cast Skeptical Eye At Pelosi Drug Plan. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) formally released her long-awaited drug-pricing bill last week, and very few individuals and organizations endorsed it outright. Click here to read the full blog post. Share on Twitter here.

- The Worth Of A Thing Is What It Will Bring. There’s an English proverb that reminds us, “The worth of a thing is what it will bring.” For patients with debilitating or life-threatening diseases, it’s hard to put a “worth” on breakthrough medicines that “bring” them better health. Value assessments – like ICER’s – are often insufficient. We explain how. Click here to read the full blog post. Share on Twitter here.

- Arnold-Funded Group Wrong On IPI. Patients For Affordable Drugs Now, the advocacy group funded by the Arnold Foundation, has run digital ads in support of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services’ proposal to adopt an International Pricing Index, or IPI. We explain how the IPI will harm innovation in America. Click here to read the full blog post. Share on Twitter here.



- Scholar: House, Senate Drug Pricing Bills Will Harm Iowans. Iowa Central College Professor Don Racheter discusses Sen. Charles Grassley’s (R-Iowa) drug-pricing bill and the proposal offered by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). He concludes, “With one of the highest Medicare beneficiary rates in the nation, Iowa stands to lose from the Grassley and House proposals more than most states. The last thing the Hawkeye State needs is even higher drug prices. Congress needs to go back to the drawing board and tackle the real drivers of the country’s high health-care costs before it is too late.”

- Biotech Innovator Warns of the Dangers of Foreign Price Controls and Reference Pricing. The CEO of the California Life Sciences Association Mike Guerra writes in Morning Consult on the consequences to patients of price controls: “Delayed or restricted access to effective drug combinations gives diseases windows to advance and even become drug resistant. In addition to the humanitarian implications, this approach could increase the number of hospitalizations and therefore increase health-care costs.”

- Galen Institute: House Bill Will Reduce Access To Pharmaceuticals. Galen Institute Senior Fellow Doug Badger on Speaker Pelosi’s drug-pricing legislation: “Proponents of H.R. 3 claim that it would have no adverse effect on innovation or on access to pharmaceuticals. But aggressive government price-setting has damaged innovation and limited access to new treatments in all six of the countries whose price controls the bill would import. If the U.S. adopts price controls, it risks the same results here.” (In related news, according to FierceHealthcare, an aide to Speaker Pelosi reportedly urged the insurance industry to lobby for the Speaker’s legislation.

- Advice To Speaker: Concentrate On Out-Of-Pocket Costs. Peter Kolchinsky, founder of RA Capital Management, opposes Speaker Pelosi’s price controls, but praises her insurance reforms. In STAT News he says, “Our creative drive to cure diseases should be the pride and joy of America, not a scapegoat for a broken health insurance system. Patients currently shoulder $61 billion of out-of-pocket drug costs. Some are financially ruined by what they are asked to pay, and many more give up on treatment. Their plight fuels outrage in the media and inflammatory rhetoric, leading many to blame innovators for the hardships insurance companies impose on patients. This is why I applaud the third part of Pelosi’s bill, which proposes much-needed insurance reforms to cap what patients pay out of pocket for the medicines they need. That’s the real solution patients have been waiting for.”

- Drug-Industry Revenues Drive Innovation. Writing in The Hill, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation Senior Fellow Joe Kennedy explains, “While the desire to lower costs is understandable, some reforms to help today’s patients would harm patients in the future by reducing the incentive to invest in new research. In 1986, biopharmaceutical research in the European Union exceeded research in the United States by 24 percent. However, the widespread implementation of price controls during the early 1990s shifted the center of the industry firmly to the United States. By 2004, U.S. research exceeded that being conducted in the EU by 15 percent. According to one study, a 10-percent rise in inflation-adjusted drug prices caused firms to increase their R&D intensity by nearly 6 percent the following year.”

- Looking For A Cure For ALS. At The Atlantic Festival, Dr. Anne McDonald Pritchett interviewed a biopharmaceutical researcher focused on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The two discussed the challenges of finding an ALS treatment and the hope we have in research and development and how, as the country’s payment system evolves, to ensure innovative medicines are accessible and affordable for the patients who need them. Click here to watch.



American Action Forum Director of Health Care Policy Christopher Holt on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s drug-pricing bill:

“The Speaker’s rhetoric about competition, good-faith negotiation, and market failures is intended to obfuscate the more fundamental reality: Her proposal amounts to the federal government setting an arbitrary price for a private good and applying that price to the entire U.S. economy. This should be a nonstarter on its face.”