May 11, 2018
Today, President Donald Trump is offering remarks on his plan to lower drug prices for Americans. While the details of the plan have yet to be publicly revealed, the White House’s approach ought to take steps to promote price transparency and competition, as well as continue to allow for drug innovation that is rapidly achieving medical breakthroughs and cures for diseases that used to be a death sentence.
In a report released in late March, Goldwater Institute Visiting Fellow Dr. Rafael Fonseca and his co-authors examined the economic, policy, and ethical considerations surrounding drug pricing and patient access. The authors offer a wide array of proposed policies that aim to preserve patient access and choice, maximize value to each patient, and allow for increased competition. Some of the recommendations include:
- Nations with similar GDPs to the U.S. that enjoy early access to brand prescriptions should not be subsidized by U.S. consumers.
- Consider new approaches to reduce FDA approval times to reduce pharmaceutical R&D costs.
- Remove barriers that protect manufacturers and Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) from price transparency and competition.
In the United States, drug prices tend to make a lot of headlines, but drug innovation, which yield untold value and benefits for patients, must not be compromised. As Dr. Fonseca outlines in his report, innovation has led to decreased hospitalizations, transfusions, and surgery, as well as less time spent away from jobs. And of course, there are more intangible benefits, such as a better quality of life. As Dr. Fonseca said at the time of his report’s release, “You can’t put a price on, say, being able to go to your child’s wedding because a drug or treatment has extended your life.”
Any successful plan to address pharmaceutical prices – an important goal – must do so in a manner that respects the important role innovation plays in making pharmaceutical advances—which can help extend patents’ lives and boost the quality of that life. For more details about the importance of balancing the cost and value of patented prescription drugs, read Dr. Fonseca’s full paper, Cost vs. Value and the Price of Innovation in Cancer Care: Oral Anticancer Drugs in Multiple Myeloma, as a Case Study, here.