The Alliance

The Weekly Dose | 10.11.19

October 11, 2019 10:29 am

Yesterday was World Mental Health Day. As PhRMA explained, mental health issues have an immense economic impact on the American economy, costing the United States more than $317 million annually in lost wages, health care expenditures, and disability benefits.


The personal toll is even higher, of course, but there is hope. Biopharmaceutical companies currently have nearly 140 medicines in development that someday could offer help individuals living with mental illness.


If history is a guide, however, only one in 10 of those hope-for treatments will come to market. Without the ability to recover the costs of those other nine attempts, how do we keep the pipeline of innovation strong? As Bill Gates said in 2016 — and as we discuss in a new blog post on the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) — you keep the R&D budgets strong.


Speaking of ICER, the group is aggressively trying to undercut the argument in favor of robust R&D budgets. Funded by the Arnolds and insurance companies, ICER has made misleading statements about the cost-effectiveness of various drugs that have led journalists to question the value they bring to patients. These kinds of statements—not based on science, mind you—will chill the market for investors looking to fund life-altering medical treatments.


Make sure to check out the full ICER post, which features Gates and more, and if you need more info for a story, or have questions, please email us.


We look forward to working with you.



Patrick O’Connor – Executive Director

Rosemarie Calabro Tully – Communications Director





- After breaking down our politicians’ #pricecontrols and #drugimportation schemes, @SanderFlaum concludes that “both sides of the aisle are suggesting lousy ideas for lowering #drugprices.” Click here for an easy briefing on the #drugpricing debate: Click here to RT.  


- Michigan is taking matters into its own hands with a proposal to eliminate pharmacy benefit managers from #Medicare negotiations. If Michigan alone can save up to $40m without #PBMs, maybe it's time we consider them in the debate on #healthcare costs. Click here to RT.


- .@realDonaldTrump’s now-abandoned plan to force #PBMs and #insurers to give back rebates to #patients would have saved patients up to $59.9 billion over 10 years. Drew Johnson from @NationalCenter explains why “the president had it right the first time”: Click here to RT.




 Check out and share on Twitter our latest blog posts:


- Who Is Behind ICER’s Drug-Pricing Report? This week, the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) released one report on drug pricing and retracted another. Members of the media came to the organization’s defense, but failed to mention who funds ICER’s research. We take a look: Click here to read the full blog post.


- ITIF Paper: Price Controls Reduce Innovation. Much like the Pentagon, Pete Buttigieg also deemed China’s growth in drug manufacturing “a serious national security vulnerability.” The U.S. has always been the global innovator, but with price controls, we’ll quickly lose our lead. Here’s why: Click here to read the full blog post. Share on Twitter here.


- Insurance, Hospital, Doctors’ Office Costs Are All Rising – While Drug Prices Are Not. Congress will likely offer drug pricing legislation this fall. That focus is misplaced. As new reports from the Kaiser Family Foundation and Arkansas Business show, hospital and doctors' office spending is what's really driving Americans’ concerns about health-care costs. We investigate: Click here to read the full blog post. Share on Twitter here.




“There Are Over 7,000 Rare Diseases …” In a story about personalized medicine, The New York Times reveals this stark fact: “There are over 7,000 rare diseases, and over 90 percent have no F.D.A.-approved treatment.”


- ICER Acknowledges Problems With Its Analysis. FiercePharma reports that, “just five days after releasing a 145-page draft report” on rheumatoid arthritis treatments, the Arnold-funded ICER retracted the report, a sign that it is “backtracking on its own number crunching.”


- Council Of Economic Advisers (CEA) Reports Drug Prices Are Falling. According to a new report from the CEA, based on the Consumer Price Index, average prices for generic and brand-name drugs bought at the pharmacy fell 0.7 percent between August 2018 and August 2019. CEA also said if the United States maintains the level of research and development investment needed to sustain the rate of new medicine approvals seen in 2017 and 2018, the cumulative benefit to patients through 2027 will be between $175.6 billion and $300.1 billion.


- Senate Bill Would Impede U.S. Innovation. Writing in the Orange County Register, Sandip Shah explains that price controls in other countries have led to a decline in innovation. Shah says the Senate bill, “with its price controls and its redrawing of the reimbursement design would put this innovation machine, which last year produced a record 59 FDA approvals, in serious jeopardy. Price controls have been a major reason for the decline of the pharmaceutical industry outside the United States. As recently as 1990, Europeans spent 14 percent more on research and development of drugs than the U.S.; in 2016, the U.S. spent 54 percent more than Europe.”


- Iowa Professor: IPI Would Harm Cancer Patients. Writing in the Quad City Times, University of Iowa Clinical Professor Emeritus Christopher Atchison argues, “Establishing price controls as described by the IPI without enabling research, innovation, and new drug development would be extremely shortsighted. The reduction in investment in cures will harm Americans suffering from every single disease, and advocates for cancer patients have been especially vocal about how the IPI would impact the search for new treatments. The American Cancer Society has warned the IPI will make it harder for cancer patients, especially those living in rural areas, to find the right provider to treat their cancer with the right drug.”


- Hope For Patients With Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy. STAT News reports “Sarepta Therapeutics (SRPT) said Friday that three patients born with a rare muscle-wasting disease called limb-girdle muscular dystrophy showed improvements in strength and function when measured nine months after a one-time infusion of an experimental gene therapy.”




You can slice data many different ways, but as The Wall Street Journal explains, when you look at drug prices in their full context, costs are going down:

“[C]onsumers are facing sticker shock because of rising deductibles and co-payments. But net prices after rebates paid to insurers and the government have been falling amid faster generic-drug approvals and more competition from branded drugs.”


University of Pittsburgh professor Dr. Ben Davies on how to avoid drug shortages:

“Oh, God, I think the number one thing, and I’ve said this publicly and I’ve written about it, you have to think, unfortunately, even though I’m a card-carrying liberal, you have to raise the price of the drug. If manufacturers aren’t going to make any money on the drug, they’re simply not going to be that interested in making it. And that’s just the system we live in. So if we don’t do that, then we can think about federal mandates, but that has not worked well in the history of drug problems and shortages.”




- October 22, 2019, 9 a.m.: Bipartisan Policy Center

- Location: 1225 Eye Street, NW Suite 1000 Washington, D.C. 20005

- Topic: “U.S. Drug Policy: Tools to Increase Access and Affordability.”

- Agenda: Explore the implications of using pharmaceutical reference pricing – both internal and external – in the United States.

- Contact: (202) 240-2400

- Website: