Lung cancer is the second most common form of cancer in men and women and the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. In 2019 alone, there will be an estimated 228,000 new lung cancer diagnoses and 140,000 deaths from the disease. Although diagnostic capabilities to detect lung cancer have crossed a new frontier, with identification down to the genetic level, continued biopharmaceutical research is needed to increase survival rates and ensure patients are diagnosed as early as possible.
H.R. 3, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recently unveiled drug pricing plan, would impose government price setting for innovative medicines and threaten future innovation for lung cancer patients by reducing incentives for biopharmaceutical investment into high risk-high reward research and development (R&D) programs. To date, the biopharmaceutical industry has invested billions of dollars in research for developing lung cancer treatments, facing many setbacks while creating stepping stones that open opportunities to move lung cancer towards becoming a curable disease. But many challenges, and much research and development, remain before lung cancer becomes a curable disease.
Unfortunately, the disease’s complex nature has resulted in limited success. Since 1996, only 30 drugs have been approved and the diverse cell and tumor types do not respond to a one-size fits all treatment. Building on the disease’s complexity, researchers must determine which genes and proteins drive the cancer and identify appropriate drug targets.
Recently however, remarkable progress has been made. Researchers have established a clearer understanding of the role genetic mutations have in causing cancer, and their role in determining which treatments may be most effective. Biopharmaceutical researchers are committed to advancing this progress to discover successful treatments for all patients. In fact, as of 2019 there were 277 lung cancer drugs in development in the U.S.
As investments in new, exciting fields such as immunotherapy and personalized medicine offer the hope of continued progress, Pelosi’s plan poses a grave threat. According to expert analysis, Pelosi’s plan could cost the biopharmaceutical industry as much as $1 trillion over 10 years. Such losses would compromise the nearly $100 billion pharmaceutical companies invest annually in R&D, and prevent the next generation of life-saving therapies for lung cancer patients.
Pelosi’s plan will leave lung cancer patients behind and is the wrong approach for the U.S. health care system, economy and American innovation. Instead of blowing up the current system, policymakers should pursue practical, bipartisan solutions that prioritize lowering out-of-pocket costs for patients.
Learn more about Speaker Pelosi’s drug pricing plan here.
Take action and tell Congress to stop Speaker Pelosi’s plan here.
Tom Wilbur is Director of Public Affairs at PhRMA focusing on federal advocacy priorities including Medicare and intellectual property. Prior to joining PhRMA, Tom worked in politics and on Capitol Hill, most recently responsible for communications and strategy for U.S. Rep. Fred Upton and the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Tom is a proud Michigander and outside of the office enjoys reading, running, hiking, golfing, live music, and spending time with family and friends.