Last month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled a radical drug pricing plan, H.R. 3, that could jeopardize the development of innovative treatments for some of the most challenging diseases and leave U.S. patients behind. Take for example, Alzheimer’s disease, a ruthless disease which devastates the minds of 5.7 million Americans and creates substantial burdens for families and caregivers.
According to a recent report, the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s, or mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s, will likely rise to 15 million by 2060. As researchers continue to search for innovative treatments that modify the course of Alzheimer’s, proposals like Pelosi’s drug pricing plan represent a significant threat to progress. Pelosi’s plan would leave Alzheimer’s patients behind and jeopardize continued innovation in the space.
New treatments are urgently needed to treat, slow and prevent Alzheimer’s, but as one of the most complex diseases ever studied, it has proven to be a risky endeavor. Since 1998, there have been 146 attempts to bring new treatments to the market, and just four have been successful. Private sector economic incentives for developing an effective Alzheimer’s therapy are considerably less than those available for other diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Despite decreased incentives and recent setbacks in research, biopharmaceutical researchers remain firm in their commitment to finding a cure and remain steadfast in their belief that each failed experiment advances their understanding of the disease. Today, there are 92 medicines in development for the treatment of Alzheimer’s and the biopharmaceutical industry continues to add to the billions of dollars already invested in the search for desperately needed treatments.
Research suggests that an additional $50 billion still needs to be invested in the research and development (R&D) of Alzheimer’s before a safe and effective treatment is invented. However, once that treatment becomes available to patients research indicates that, “2.6 million people could be spared from developing Alzheimer’s disease and $650 billion could be saved on health care costs and unpaid caregiving” in just the first five years.
Unfortunately, Pelosi’s drug pricing plan would chill investment in R&D and impose government price setting on innovative medicines that treat complex diseases, like Alzheimer’s. While critics have said otherwise, research shows that “it is simply not true that government can impose significant price controls without damaging the chances for cures.”
The Pelosi plan is the wrong approach for patients, the U.S. health care system, economy and American innovation. Policymakers must put patients first, and should continue to pursue practical, bipartisan solutions that prioritize lowering out-of-pocket costs for patients balanced with maintaining incentives for advances needed against our most costly and challenging diseases.
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.