A "reckless" drug pricing scheme

September 14, 2020
A lot of breaking news this weekend, including the drug pricing executive order yesterday. We have the details, plus an announcement from a member working on innovative animal biotech, in around 890 words, 4 and a half minutes.

A lot of breaking news this weekend, including the drug pricing executive order yesterday. We have the details, plus an announcement from a member working on innovative animal biotech, in around 890 words, 4 and a half minutes.

A "reckless" drug pricing scheme

Yesterday, President Trump released his executive order on drug pricinga “reckless scheme” that will harm the industry working on COVID-19 cures as well as America’s seniors. 

On Sunday, President Trump released an executive order, Lowering Drug Prices by Putting America First, which says “the Medicare program should not pay more for costly Part B or Part D prescription drugs or biological products than the most-favored-nation price.” 

What does that mean? “The ‘most-favored-nation price’ shall mean the lowest price, after adjusting for volume and differences in national gross domestic product, for a pharmaceutical product that the drug manufacturer sells in a member country of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that has a comparable per-capita gross domestic product.”

And, yes, it includes Medicare Part B AND Part D. Before now, scenarios only included Part B.

It’s more extreme than the International Pricing Index (IPI) proposed in 2018—closer to the foreign price controls in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s drug pricing bill (H.R. 3), which the president’s own economic advisers said would reduce pharmaceutical revenues by as much as $1 trillion over the next decade and lead to 100 fewer drugs due to less investment in R&D.

And if implemented, it would harm patient access to lifesaving treatments. The absence of price controls in the U.S. leads to more and newer medicines available sooner to Americans. Of the 65 cancer drugs launched between 2011-2017, 95% are available in the United States, compared with 75% in the UK, and 51% in Japan.

Trump had been threatening this order for a while. As you may recall, on July 24, he announced four executive orders with potential to impact the biopharmaceutical industry; this one was the last to be published. 

So, what's next? “It’s still unclear when the Trump administration will formally implement the new executive order,” or if that can even happen before the election, says STAT News

BIO's next steps: We have worked hard to advance systemic and bipartisan reforms that address legitimate concerns about U.S. health insurance and delivery, including about the affordability and accessibility of medicines. We will use every tool available—including legal action, if necessary—to fight this price control scheme.

Dr. Michelle’s Diagnosis: With scientists and researchers at America’s biopharmaceutical companies working around the clock to fight a deadly pandemic, it is simply dumbfounding that the Trump administration would move forward with its threat to import foreign price controls and the inevitable delays to innovation that will follow. This reckless scheme will eliminate hope for vulnerable seniors and other patients waiting for new treatments by drastically reducing investment in cutting-edge scientific research and development. – BIO President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath


More Health Care News: 

Reuters: Pfizer, BioNTech propose expanding COVID-19 vaccine trial to 44,000 volunteers
“The proposed expansion would also allow the companies to enroll people as young as 16 and people with chronic, stable HIV, hepatitis C and hepatitis B.” 

STAT News: AstraZeneca resumes COVID-19 vaccine trials in the UK
“Saturday’s statement from AstraZeneca said the independent U.K. investigation into the event has concluded and it advised the Medicines Health Regulatory Authority, Britain’s equivalent of the Food and Drug Administration, that it was safe to resume the trial.” 

The Wall Street Journal: Merck COVID-19 vaccine begins human testing
“The phase 1/2 trial would evaluate the shot in healthy volunteers to make sure it is safe and look for signs the vaccine generates an immune response.”  


How dairy cows can help us build a more sustainable, resilient world

BIO member Acceligen received a big grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that will allow them to help dairy farmers in sub-Saharan Africa increase their income and make the industry more resilient in the face of economic and climate crises—taking us one step closer to a more sustainable world.

Acceligen, a Recombinetics Inc. company, is a global leader in the development, deployment, and commercialization of precision animal breeding technologies.

The $3.68 million grant is to develop bovine genetics to “optimize” cows with traits that will help smallholder dairy farmers in sub-Saharan Africa by improving the health of the animals and increasing the farmers’ income. 

Specifically, with gene editing, Acceligen can more precisely and efficiently breed for traits related to adaptation to tropical heat and milk yield, and local diseases. 

In addition to creating positive economic and health impacts, they can also reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “The current [sub-Saharan Africa] dairy animals generally have a much higher ratio of greenhouse gas to animal protein output compared to breeds developed in the EU and US,” says the release.

What they’re saying: “By gene editing animals to be more sustainable and enable smallholder farmers to better provide for their families, this project exemplifies what Acceligen is really about,” said Sabreena Larson, Acceligen’s Director of Commercial Operations. “Acceligen is driven to implement the use of gene editing in livestock to increase animal welfare and sustainability, while helping to improve the globe by reducing hunger and fighting climate change.” 

This is a key part of Acceligen’s work to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, which will transform our world to make it more sustainable, inclusive, and resilient, especially in the midst of a global health, economic, and climate crisis. 

And it’s why we need science-based regulations on animal gene editing. Read more about how and why in this recent Missouri Ruralist op-ed by Chris Chinn, Director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture.

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President Trump’s Monday: In addition to the drug pricing executive order, news broke over the weekend that the Trump administration interfered in CDC COVID-19 reports, according to POLITICO. Yesterday, he held an indoor rally in Nevada. Today, he’s headed to McClellan Park, CA, to participate in a briefing on the wildfires and recognize the California National Guard, then to Phoenix, AZ, to meet with the Latinos for Trump Coalition. 

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: Looks like it could be a busy week, so stay tuned.

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