We hope everyone had a restful Thanksgiving. (We can’t believe the holiday was just last week?) Congress has been busy in its week back from break. The U.S. House is scheduled to vote on H.R. 3 next week. As we note in our latest blog post (link below), Academy of Medicine President Peter Rheinstein has warned that the Speaker’s legislation “would bring medical research projects to a screeching halt — and doom millions of patients to premature deaths from otherwise curable diseases.”
We also cannot forget that state lawmakers are busy as well, working to advance initiatives supported by billionaires John and Laura Arnold. In the Galion Inquirer, Russell Kent, Emory University health policy professor and chair of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, explains how proposals from groups like the Arnold-funded Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) will hinder the search for cures for rare diseases. Kent explains the United Kingdom uses the sort of assessment tool advocated by ICER, and its National Institute for Health and Care Excellence “routinely recommends denying patients access to potentially life-saving drugs for conditions ranging from cancer to cystic fibrosis.”
We hope you’ll read on for more information. 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
TWEETS OF THE WEEK
- In 2019 alone, “at least eight researchers and advocates funded by the Arnolds have testified on Capitol Hill.” @levfacher of @statnews takes a look at the Arnolds’ spending and how it’s shaping the #DrugPricing debate in Washington: https://bit.ly/2DLn009 #MoneyInPolitics Click here to RT.
- Via @statnews: “though John Arnold himself has no experience in health policy, his spending barrage has thrust him, personally, into the center of the drug-pricing debates.” For a refresher on the @JohnArnoldFndtn & all the issues with @icer_review, visit: https://bit.ly/2PgidJl Click here to RT.
- Drug #importation is a stunt gaining steam on the Hill, but @berkeleyJr notes that in “most circumstances, it is illegal to import [meds]... for personal use... [and] Canadian health officials & the pharmaceutical industry are against the proposal.”https://cnb.cx/38a1gsD Click here to RT.
THE STORIES THAT DIDN’T GET ENOUGH ATTENTION
Check out and share on Twitter our latest blog posts:
- Growing Concern About H.R. 3’s Impact On Innovation. The 2020 election will be, at least in part, an election centered around the cost of health care. Candidates must address Americans’ concerns about the rising cost of health care and health insurance, but a new Morning Consult survey also offers insight into how voters want lawmakers to handle questions about pharmaceutical pricing and innovation. Click here to read the full blog post.
- AARP Blankets The States. Over the last two weeks, we have found at least nine op-eds in small- to medium-sized newspapers by at least nine different writers, all supporting Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s bill, H.R. 3. Normally a number like that would be considered a grassroots win. But here’s the thing: these columns are virtually identical – the authors are different, but the words are the same. Click here to read the full blog post.
- A Plea To Protect Innovation. We are in the middle of a revolution. The biopharmaceutical industry is churning out a steady stream of innovative therapies to treat or cure debilitating, often life-threatening diseases. Research that began a generation ago is now producing breakthrough medicines that help people live longer, better lives. Click here to read the full blog post. Share on Twitter here.
WHAT WE’RE READING
- Hope For Patients With Sickle Cell Disease. Last week, Reuters reported the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a drug from Global Blood Therapeutics (GBT) to treat sickle cell disease in adults and children 12 years or older. In a statement, the FDA said, “Today's approval provides additional hope to the 100,000 people in the U.S., and the more than 20 million globally, who live with this debilitating blood disorder.” Check out our video to learn more about GBT’s work.
- Law Enforcement Official: Drug Importation Is A Bad Idea. In The Salt Lake City Tribune, Sheriff Rosie Rivera writes: “Recent information coming from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Food and Drug Administration is alarming. Already our supply chain has been contaminated by foreign illicit drugs masquerading as conventional pharmaceuticals. Law enforcement’s fear is that importation will end up increasing the availability of contaminated and counterfeit drugs.”
- How Will House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Legislation Impact Innovation? According to a study undertaken by the economic consulting firm Vital Transformation, because it would cut revenues by more than half for many companies, H.R.3 could result in at least 56 fewer new medicines for patients over 10 years. As a press release explained, the bill “would have a disproportionate effect on industry work with small biotech companies, forcing hard choices and moving capital away from riskier investments where the science is tougher and economic returns are less certain.”
- And … Make No Mistake, The United States Is A Hub For Innovation. Writing in the Naples Daily News, Sandip Shah, president of Market Access Solutions, reminds readers “American pharmaceutical researchers deserve credit for the lion’s share of medical progress. In 2017, drug firms poured $97 billion into research and development operations in the United States. That's more than double the U.S. government's spending on scientific research. Scientists in U.S. labs are currently developing 4,500 experimental drugs – more than half of all medicines in development worldwide.”
- Nebraska Voice: Pelosi Plan Would Harm State Economy. In the Lincoln Journal-Star, Lisa May writes “The biopharmaceutical sector currently supports more than 14,600 jobs in Nebraska. This proposal could also permanently delay the introduction of new medicines, which are critical to advancing treatments and even cures. Beyond this, Pelosi’s plan could lead to the loss of more than 2,600 jobs in Nebraska and more than $740 million in annual economic output for the state.”
- Pharmacy Benefits Managers Lead To Shutdown Of Community Pharmacists. Writing at PennLive, pharmacist Darrin Silbaugh reports “a recent National Community Pharmacists Association survey of independent community pharmacists revealed that almost 60 percent may close their doors in the next two years, with nearly two-thirds saying that the biggest problem are the back-door fees the PBMs claw back from pharmacies weeks or months after transactions.” Writing in the Indiana Gazette, pharmacist Stephanie Smith Cooney agrees that Congress must reform rules governing PBMs.
QUOTATIONS OF THE WEEK
Writing in Morning Consult, pharmacist Joy Wright warns against drug importation:
“If the U.S. government foolishly moves forward with ill-conceived plans to import medicine from Canada, or if several states (including Florida, where I practice) get the greenlight to implement their own importation plans, it will make it much easier for rogue manufacturers in the third world to make fake medicines, apply realistic-looking labels and sell them to Americans. People in this country who think they are getting a great deal will end up getting sicker because their conditions aren’t being effectively treated or, worse, will be harmed by whatever ingredients counterfeiters add to the adulterated product.”
Peter Pitts, co-founder of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, on the importance of the United States’ intellectual property (IP) laws. (Dean Paranicas, CEO of the Healthcare Institute of New Jersey, also took up this issue at NJ.Com.) Pitts said:
“Our IP laws have made the United States the world leader in biopharmaceutical discovery. In fact, U.S. drug companies receive more venture capital investment than firms in any other nation. As a result, American labs are responsible for more than half of all drugs in development worldwide.”
UPCOMING EVENTS TO WATCH
Tuesday, December 10, 9 a.m.: Bipartisan Policy Center
Location: 1225 Eye Street, NW Suite 1000 Washington, D.C. 20005
Topic: “Health Week”
Agenda: A number of robust policy discussions on the importance of primary care in Medicaid, updates to the Stark Law and Anti-Kickback Statute, and solutions to pharma patent practices and pricing.