Drug pricing is short-sighted selfish

Prescription drug pricing proposals continue to be introduced in Congress with the purported goal of lowering prescription drug prices and improving Medicare. In fact, the Biden administration Building back better (BBBA) contains such provisions, and some usually authoritative members of Congress have recently declared themselves open to adopting such drug pricing provisions as a reduced and autonomous bill. Yet all of these proposals are selfishly short-sighted and ultimately lead to lower quality, fewer options, poorer health outcomes, and the imposition of price controls that could exacerbate inflation or lead to shortages.

The provisions of the BBBA would allow government bureaucrats to set prescription drug prices based on a formula imposed by law. The earlier version of this proposal, HR 3, based drug prices on what is paid in six foreign countries (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom). The theory is that by importing foreign price controls from these countries, Medicare, Medicaid and private payers could save billions of dollars over the next few years.

Lower drug prices such as those found abroad may seem attractive. The problem is that these countries set artificially low reimbursements for drugs – they employ authoritarian socialist systems of drug pricing and access restrictions. Today, many of these countries rely on the United States to provide lifesaving innovations, rare disease therapies, and complex treatment options. The BBBA moved away from explicit foreign reference prices, but retained the same aggressive price control infrastructure.

Drug pricing systems would devastate the US pharmaceutical industry. We would certainly see a drastic reduction in investment in biomedical research and development. This, in turn, would lead to the pain, suffering and premature death of many more American patients, much like it is happening today in these socialist countries. As we have seen in other sectors, price controls can distort the market so much that they often exacerbate inflation or can lead to shortages (both problems we no longer need).

Drug pricing policies would significantly impede the development of new therapies to treat some of the world’s most pressing health problems: not only cancer, but also rare diseases, lupus, Alzheimer’s disease and many more. ‘others.

Think about it: in the United States, we wait less than two months, on average, from the time a new cancer drug is developed before patients are treated with it. Patients in Germany and the UK are waiting about a year. Canadian and French patients are waiting 14-16 months, and Australian and Japanese patients are waiting almost two years.

Now think of the number of people who literally die waiting for treatments that already exist because they live in countries where socialist drug pricing policies impede or block the flow of new drugs through their medical systems. Sacrificing future innovations for short-term financial savings, as countries with socialist pricing policies do, is simply incredibly selfish.

Indeed, the concept of “paying it forward” could hardly be more compelling than in the case of discovering life-saving therapies and cures for our most pressing health issues. The selfishness implicit in the introduction of prescription drug pricing into the pharmaceutical market is staggering.

And the BBBA has an even darker underbelly. What we see in foreign countries (like Canada or many European countries) that control prices like the BBBA would, make drug reimbursement and coverage decisions based on cost-effectiveness assessments related to quality-adjusted life year (QALY). QALY ratings are based on what officials consider the value of living with a medical condition versus being in “perfect health.”

Thus, QALYs assign a lower value to treatments aimed at people who are expected to live fewer years, to treatments aimed at populations with expected shorter life expectancies, and, by default, to treatments aimed at populations that have have faced historical inequalities in health. care system. So the BBBA would like us to import drug pricing provisions that are not only socialist but also sexist, racist and biased against people with disabilities. In short, the BBBA would take selfishness to a dark new level.

That’s why Congress should once and for all abandon prescription drug pricing systems and instead focus on helping everyone afford the elite care we have. in our great country.

Kent Kaiser, Ph.D., is executive director of the Trade Alliance to Promote Prosperity. More information is available at www.promote-trade.org.

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