No, Americans don’t pay twice for new medicines

July 23, 2020
Now more than ever, we need to support biotech innovators—helping them find investors and strategic partners to advance their company to the next stage in their business life cycle. From October 13-15, BIO Investor Forum Digital will create a venue—entirely online—to…
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Now more than ever, we need to support biotech innovators—helping them find investors and strategic partners to advance their company to the next stage in their business life cycle. From October 13-15, BIO Investor Forum Digital will create a venue—entirely online—to support investment deal flow and help small biotechs find the capital and strategic partners to succeed in their next stage of growth. Click here for details and registration. 

Today, we dive into a new study on public research funding and drug prices, as well as the EPA’s announcement on airline emissions. Here are around 800 words, 4 minutes.

No, Americans don’t pay twice for medicines—new research explains

Partnerships between drug manufacturers and the federal government are helping the industry move quickly to develop COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccines. That’s a good thing.

But some policymakers want the government to seize patents for drugs that benefit in part from publicly funded research—arguing that consumers pay twice for these drugs, so the government should control pricing and license the drugs to generic manufacturers, explains The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board

“This would kill the innovation that is saving the lives of COVID patients,” the editorial explains. 

One example is Gilead’s remdesivir, an antiviral that has helped lower the coronavirus death rate. While NIH helped fund research on remdesivir’s efficacy, Gilead discovered and developed the drug—and expects to spend more than $1 billion on R&D and manufacturing this year alone.

But Americans don’t actually pay “twice” for drugs as some industry critics claim, finds new research by Rena M. Conti of Boston University and Frank S. David of Pharmagellan LLC and Harvard-MIT Center for Regulatory Science.

They found “the public sector’s contribution to new drugs has been in the form of early scientific findings, unrelated to current or potential applications,” with 90% of NIH-funded publications connected to new medicines “related to the underlying drug target, not the actual therapy itself.”

Furthermore, “the private sector is the main inventor,” with 25% of drugs approved between 2008-2017 having “any documented contribution, of any magnitude, to a drug’s initial discovery, synthesis, or key intellectual property by a public sector research institution or academic ‘spin-off’ company.” 

The conclusion: “Proposals to control a therapy’s price based on the degree to which public funds contributed to its development are not just unfeasible to implement, but also a distraction from more far-reaching efforts to improve the affordability of all medicines. Attention should instead be focused on developing practical solutions that ensure that clinically valuable new drugs continue to be developed and are accessible by all patients in need.”

We agree.

 

More Health Care News:

Reuters: U.S. to pay Pfizer, BioNTech $1.95 billion for COVID-19 vaccine
“Pfizer hopes to start its pivotal late-stage trial of the vaccine as early as next week, pending regulatory approvals.” 

STAT News: NIH to start ‘flurry’ of large studies of potential COVID-19 treatments
They include “studies of antiviral monoclonal antibodies to treat COVID-19 in both hospitalized patients and patients who can be treated at home; studies of drugs to quell overreaction of the immune system that the agency has picked from dozens of approved treatments; and studies of blood thinners in very sick COVID-19 patients to prevent problems caused by blood clots.”

 
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I am BIO

Meet Marianne: Scientist & Mom

Meet Marianne: Scientist & Mom

Meet Marianne Stanford, Vice President of Research and Development at IMV, a Canadian biotech company developing a COVID-19 vaccine.

IMV’s unique platform has the ability to generate a strong immune response that can last a long time—and they’re hopeful they’ll be able to move their coronavirus vaccine forward this summer.

She talks about what it’s like being a scientist and a mom—and how her love of answering questions drove her to this career.

Visit www.bio.org/iambio to learn more and share your story!

 
 
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EPA introduces GHG standards for airlines

Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the first-ever greenhouse gas standards for airlines—and biotech has a solution ready for take-off to help the airlines get there. 

The proposed rule, Control of Air Pollution from Airplanes and Airplane Engines: GHG Emission Standards and Test Procedures, however, is “weaker than environmentalists had hoped,” reports E&E News.

The standard “lags existing aircraft technologies by more than 10 years,” according to the International Council on Clean Transportation. The most advanced new aircraft already “outperform the EPA proposed standard by 10%-20%, on average," reports Forbes.

Nonetheless, it’s “the first time that EPA has limited carbon dioxide emissions from planes—a historic step from an agency that has typically weakened or delayed climate rules under President Trump,” continues E&E News.

The bottom line: It’s critical we reduce emissions in aviation, and the EPA’s proposed rule is a step in the right direction towards cleaning up air pollution and incentivizing renewable fuels. Fortunately, Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) are readily available—but we need policies that support expanded production of them.

 

More Agriculture & Environment News

SynBioBeta:
 Twist Bioscience Launches Synthetic Controls for Respiratory Viruses
"Twist Biosciences today announced the expansion of its infectious disease product line with the addition of 16 new synthetic controls for the environmental testing, assay development, verification, and ongoing validation of diagnostic tests for a broad range of common respiratory diseases."

 
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President Trump’s Thursday: No public events on the schedule. 

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: Senate Republicans will release more of their coronavirus package today, which is expected to include $25 billion for COVID-19 testing, $26 billion for vaccine research, distribution, and use, and $5 billion for vaccine distribution overseas. It will also include $20 billion in direct payments to farmers and some type of extension of unemployment benefits, as well as a second round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for small businesses. We’re watching a couple hearings today, on reopening schools and economic recovery.

 
 
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