This week’s reading list: All the reasons the Senate-passed drug pricing bill is bad policy

Nicole Longo
Nicole Longo August 10, 2022

This week’s reading list: All the reasons the Senate-passed drug pricing bill is bad policy.

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Last weekend, the Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act which includes dangerous price-setting provisions. The bill now heads to the House for consideration, where it is not too late for them to stand up for patients and medical innovation by opposing the bill.

As the House considers the bill, we’re looking back at the many concerns that have been raised.

Threatens Patient Access: Whether you are looking at estimates of how many fewer medicines will be developed and approved because of this bill or at the changes to Medicare Part B that could impact which medicines are available to seniors, the end result is the same. The Inflation Reduction Act puts patient access to medicines and future innovations in jeopardy.

That’s why patient advocates from across the country have increasingly spoken out about the negative consequences of government price setting policies, like those included in this bill. As Adrienne from New York wrote in a letter to the editor: “I hope level heads prevail on this issue and that our members of Congress reject policies that could come between families and their care.”

Discourages Post-Approval Research: The bill completely ignores the value of post-approval research – the time, effort and investment in drug development that continues long after a medicine is first approved. Nearly 60% of oncology medicines approved a decade ago received additional approvals in later years. By setting a pre-determined year after FDA approval for a medicine to be subject to price setting, the bill cuts these research efforts off at the knee.

Making this exact point, pharmaceutical CEOs joined forces in sending a letter to all members of Congress, calling on them to oppose the bill. As they explain: “Fewer new medicines is a steep price to pay for a bill that also doesn’t do enough to make medicines more affordable. … This lack of real affordability gains is reason enough to vote against this bill. But so is the assault on innovation, particularly research that takes place after a medicine has been approved.”

Disincentivizes Development of Biosimilars and Generics: Today, 90% of all prescriptions filled in the United States are lower-cost generics and a robust biosimilars market has emerged. Together, they yield increased competition and substantial savings for patients and the government. The Inflation Reduction Act completely ignores this progress and enables the government to impose a set price for medicines even after a biosimilar or generic competitor comes to market.

Venture capitalists, who are critical to supporting early-stage biopharmaceutical research, have called on Congress to oppose the bill numerous times. As reported in the Washington Times: “Investors say the nine-year negotiation threshold, which applies to ‘small molecule’ drugs, would deter investments in research for the kinds of treatments that have become staples in Americans’ medicine cabinets.”

But that’s not all! The Inflation Reduction Act could also lead to the permanent loss of more than half a million industry-supported jobs across the United States.

With all this destruction, perhaps the most disappointing part is that the bill doesn’t do enough to make medicines more affordable. What’s the point of the bill if we aren’t holding insurance companies and middlemen accountable for their abusive practices?

Tell the House of Representatives: It’s not too late to vote no. Stand up for patients and innovation.

Topics: Research and Development, Patients, Government Price Setting