The Alliance

The Weekly Dose | 10.25.19

October 25, 2019 10:10 am

What do a former arm wrestling champion and drug importation have in common? They both offer false hope to patients looking for treatments and cures. 


New York media outlets reported this week that a former arm wrestling world champion and his mother have been arrested for selling a bogus cancer cure online. They called their treatment “the answer for cancer.” Cute, but bogus. Meanwhile, we know that one in 10 drugs sold worldwide and half of those found in developing countries are counterfeit. Not only will these drugs not cure patients, they could put their health at further risk. Americans deserve real solutions, no slogans.


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Patrick O’Connor – Executive Director

Rosemarie Calabro Tully – Communications Director




The North Andover, Mass. Eagle-Tribune published a letter to the editor by APMI Executive Director Patrick O’Connor explaining that the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review “is no unbiased source.”




- @PoliticoPulse reports today that @HHSGov Secretary @SecAzar “wasn’t enthusiastic” about #drug importation, calling it a mere "gimmick." Considering Canada has witnessed shortages in 1250 products in three years, we are inclined to believe him. Click here to RT.   


- Thanks to decades of industry-leading #innovation, the U.S. boasts lower #cancer mortality rates than most developed countries. The CEO of @AZMyeloma Barbara Kavanagh fears that #pricecontrols “will be at the expense of #patient health and well-being.” Click here to RT.


- Not only does it cost $2.6B on average to bring a new #medicine to market; only 1/1000 compounds even make it through pre-clinical trial phase. Given the high costs of discovery, it's clear why @PeterPitts calls HR 3 a “virtual death knell on #innovation.” Click here to RT.




Check out and share on Twitter our latest blog posts:


- A Conversation about QALY. The Bipartisan Policy Center recently hosted an event on drug pricing funded by the Arnolds. The term QALY came up a lot, and the concept was the source of significant disagreement among panelists and audience members. Dr. Peter Bach and the Arnolds are right: QALY is a measurement. But we don’t believe it’s the right one for American patients. Click here to read the full blog post.


- H.R. 3 And Innovation. Kellogg School’s Craig Garthwaite points out that while price controls on drugs seem appealing, the “trade-offs don’t show up in the budget.” Like most Americans, we too don’t think that stifling innovation and limiting supply are worth it. Click here to read the full blog post. Share on Twitter here.


- GOP, Progressives, Insurers – All Cast Skeptical Eye At Pelosi Drug Plan. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) drug-pricing bill legislation is making its way through the lower chamber of Congress, but very few individuals and organizations endorsed it outright. We take a look. Click here to read the full blog post. Share on Twitter here




- International Pricing Index Would Bring “Discriminatory Cost-Effectiveness Standards” To The United States. At STAT News, Sue Peschin is president and CEO of the Alliance for Aging Research, and Duane Schulthess, managing director of Vital Transformation, warn: “The international pricing index would also effectively endorse the use here in the U.S. of discriminatory cost-effectiveness standards used by foreign governments. Many of the referenced countries, such as the U.K., Canada, and Greece, make drug reimbursement and coverage decisions based on cost-effectiveness assessments tied to the quality-adjusted life year (QALY). These QALY assessments assign a financial value to the patients for whom a given treatment is intended.” Former Food and Drug Administration associate commissioner Peter Pitts addresses the drawbacks of the IPI in The Center Square.


- Pelosi Bill Would Hit Cancer Drug Research “Particularly Hard.” As a blog post by AIS Health reports, Lisa Kennedy, Ph.D., chief economist and managing principal at Innopiphany, has found “the biopharmaceutical industry is responsible for approximately 70 percent of all innovation within health care” and “price fixing of pharmaceuticals has been shown in several studies to have a knock-on effect on innovation.” The blog post explains that Dr. Kennedy believe the types of price caps that are in H.R. 3 would hit “oncology, one of the most productive and exciting areas of innovation in the biopharmaceutical industry … particularly hard.”


- Would H.R. 3 Cause Innovation To Move To China? U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue thinks so. In a blog post this week, Donohue warned that, with H.R. 3, “There is one potential winner from all of this – China. When Europe adopted price controls, investments in research and the associated benefits moved to the U.S. Now, if Congress adopts similar price control policies, those same research dollars and jobs are likely to move offshore to places like China.” Former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has more on the negative consequences of H.R. 3 in Time and Candace DeMatteis, policy director at the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, tackles the same topic in The Detroit News.


- “Price Controls Discourage Investment.” Citizens Against Government Waste President Tom Schatz writes, “Countries that use price controls discourage investment in their biopharmaceutical industry, which is why in 2016 the U.S. led in total pharmaceutical R&D expenditures with 58 percent, Japan came in next at 13 percent, the U.K. was at 7 percent, and Canada was at 1 percent.” 


- Per Capita Hospital Spending Grew 32 Percent Between 2008 And 2017. The American Action Forum reports, “Despite a decrease in hospital utilization, spending on hospital care grew 32 percent on a per capita basis between 2008 and 2017, and spending is expected to grow 5.7 percent per year, on average, from 2020 to 2027, largely because prices rose 29 percent from 2005 to 2018 and are expected to continue rising.” AAF blames hospital consolidations for the cost increases. Washington Monthly has more on hospital consolidation, and its effect on health care spending.


- New Hope For Patients With Cystic Fibrosis. STAT News reports, Vertex Pharmaceuticals “won approval for its fourth treatment for cystic fibrosis, a combination drug that extends a new form of therapy to 90 percent of CF patients.” Acting Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Ned Sharpless said the approval makes “a novel treatment available to most cystic fibrosis patients, including adolescents, who previously had no options and giving others in the cystic fibrosis community access to an additional effective therapy.” The mother of a 10-year-old with cystic fibrosis told STAT News, “Now, I know that my son’s lungs will function as well as mine. That’s just unbelievable.”




Writing in the Orlando Sentinel last week, Michelle Flowers, president of the Oncology Manager of Florida, said:

“[T]he United States leads the world in drug development. There are currently more than 4,000 medicines being developed by U.S. researchers — including over 1,000 cancer therapies and more than 200 treatments for heart disease and stroke. All told, U.S. firms are responsible for producing close to 60 percent of new medicines. Speaker Pelosi’s plan would jeopardize this lifesaving research. Patients around the world would have no hope of seeing new treatments or cures for their ailments.”


Regarding House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s drug-pricing bill, Galen Institute President Grace-Marie Turner wrote the following in Forbes:

“The confiscatory taxes and other shakedowns of pharmaceutical companies in H.R. 3 would dry up investment in research into new and better treatments and cures and would surely distort and restrict the supply of existing medicines."