Regulating prescription drugs

The sweeping proposals outlined in Secretary Clinton’s plan to regulate prescription drug prices would restrict patients’ access to medicines, result in fewer new treatments for patients, cost countless jobs across the country and could end our nation’s standing as the world leader in biomedical innovation.

Researchers and scientists across the biopharmaceutical industry have dedicated their lives to the search for new treatments and cures for patients. They do so against tremendous odds, knowing that despite years of work on potential medicines, nine out of ten will fail during clinical trials and the process will start over. This persistence and dedication to patients has resulted in tremendous advances against some of life’s biggest enemies, including cancer, hepatitis c, heart disease and other devastating diseases.

False Notions

These proposals are driven by the false notion that spending on medicines is fueling overall healthcare cost growth and ignores how the current marketplace for medicines helps keep spending in check. In reality, the share of healthcare spending attributable to medicines is projected to continue to grow in line with overall healthcare cost growth for at least the next decade. This is because competition and negotiation by payers result in steep discounts in medicine prices, and as a result of the current patent system 90 percent of medicines used are low-cost generic copies.

It may not be known for decades the full consequences of policies that shift time, resources and energy away from searching for cures for the most challenging and complex diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and the most difficult forms of cancer. And yet the stakes could not be higher for the patients who are waiting for new medicines that can improve their lives and offer them more time with loved ones.

Specifically, the Clinton proposal:

  • Places arbitrary spending caps on the most research-intensive industry in America, which invests one in every five dollars spent on domestic R&D by U.S. businesses. This would erode the U.S. leadership in biomedical innovation, slash high-tech STEM jobs and undermine U.S. competitiveness.
  • Would result in higher costs and fewer coverage options for the tens of millions of seniors who rely on the successful and hugely popular Medicare Part D program.
  • Risks patient safety by permitting the importation of medicines from abroad with no evidence of savings.
  • Ignores the considerable return taxpayers already receive from investment in basic research and the reality that biopharmaceutical companies perform the vast majority of research and development of new medicines.
  • Would halt medical innovation and chill R&D investment by reducing data protection for biologics.

– John Castellani is president and Chief Executive Officer of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

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