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John Lechleiter Forbes Op-Ed: Debunking the Five Big Myths About 'Big Pharma'

May 21, 2015
This week, Eli Lilly and Company President, Chairman and CEO John Lechleiter refutes five big myths about big pharma in this Forbes opinion piece.

He points to these five biggest industry myths as ‘routinely poisoning debates, obscuring genuine problems, and distorting policy recommendations on health care.’

In short (excerpts):

Myth #1 Pharmaceutical companies exaggerate the costs of developing new medicines to justify high prices. In fact: The research and development (R&D) expenditures of this industry are staggering—and since they are matters of public record there is no way and no need to exaggerate them.

Myth #2 Industry does not develop most new medicines; they come from government and university laboratories. In fact: Government and academic research contribute in essential ways to biomedical progress—but the complex and expensive process of turning insights on diseases and promising leads into approved treatments for patients occurs almost entirely in private industry.

Myth #3 Prescription medicines are the main driver of health-care cost increases. In fact: Expenditures on prescription medicines have been a stable component of health-care spending over time and often contribute to overall cost savings rather than to increases.

Myth #4 Public and private health-care payers must accept and pay whatever prices drug companies charge for medicines. In fact: The free market actually works in prescription medicines—and private and public payers alike have powerful levers to control drug expenses.

Myth #5 Government-controlled pricing of medicines in other countries explains their lower health-care costs. In fact: The cost of medicines explains only a small fraction of the differences in health-care spending between the U.S. and systems where socialized medicine prevails.

The full op-ed can be accessed here.