Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) announced a legislative package designed to control the prices of prescription drugs yesterday—just as BIO’s Council of State Bioscience Associations (CSBA) released a new report showing the problems with this approach.
Yesterday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security, chaired by Sen. Sanders, held a two-hour hearing focused on U.S. drug prices and international comparisons.
In addition to drug pricing, the hearing also covered patent thickets, the need for more robust generic and biosimilar markets, and funding for R&D at NIH—and overall, there was considerable criticism of the industry and support for international reference pricing. (Watch the whole thing here.)
The hearing coincided with the reintroduction of three bills to control the prices of drugs:The Prescription Drug Price Relief Act, The Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act, and The Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act.
Notably, The Prescription Drug Price Relief Act would link the prices of prescription drugs in the United States to prices in Canada, the UK, France, Germany, and Japan—similar to what was proposed in H.R. 3 in 2019 and the Trump administration’s “Most Favored Nation” proposal.
So, what if H.R. 3 had been in place between 2009-2019? The CSBA report says:
- A basket of 68 innovative therapies developed by small and emerging biotechs and approved during that time frame would have been reduced to only seven.
- New medicines for some of the most difficult conditions to treat—including in rare diseases, oncology, and neurology—would have been disproportionately impacted.
- Biopharmaceutical industry job losses alone would total nearly 191,000 as U.S. biopharmaceutical industry earnings would drop sharply (a 62% reduction, or $125 billion in 2024 alone).
“If enacted, price setting policies would significantly impede researchers’ ability to bring lifesaving treatments to patients and respond to future health crises,” says Michele Oshman, CSBA Executive Director and BIO VP of External Affairs. “As the last year has made abundantly clear, we cannot afford to short-circuit an industry which offers hope to millions of Americans living with debilitating diseases and directly employs nearly 1.9 million workers across the nation.”
What kind of drug pricing policy do we need? “CSBA supports patient-oriented solutions that lower out-of-pocket costs for Americans, maintain access to the latest therapies, and fuel the cures of tomorrow. We will continue to engage lawmakers to find policies that achieve these important goals,” added Oshman.
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