Biopharmaceutical innovation has played an important and undisputed role in improving patient health outcomes and quality of life. Yet the policy debate around U.S. health care spending has predominantly focused on curbing drug costs, such as through government price setting.
However, research shows that regulating drug prices will result in fewer medicines coming to market and is unlikely to help with patient affordability. This approach also ignores other drivers of U.S. health spending and undervalues the benefits that medicines bring to patients.
In NPC’s Innovation Matters video series, hear from patient advocates, researchers, and other stakeholders about the potential unintended consequences for patient health if drug pricing policies harm biopharmaceutical innovation. Watch the second video in the series below and the first video here.
Sue Peschin, president and CEO, Alliance for Aging Research: Proposals to incorporate price controls on prescription drugs will definitely discourage research and development and will have a huge impact in terms of biopharmaceutical innovation.
Dr. Brian D. Smith, professor, researcher, and author: You know anybody can have innovative pharmaceuticals and anybody can have affordable pharmaceuticals, the trick is to try and do both at the same time, and that’s really quite difficult.
Dr. Mark Fendrick, professor of medicine and public health, University of Michigan: Cutting health care spending is the main focus of health reform discussions. This cost containment ideology has led to policies that have directly led to patients underutilizing high-value medications — the medications that I beg them to do — often leading to poor patient-reported outcomes, worsening health care disparities and inequities, and inefficient spending by public and private payers.
Sue Peschin: Proponents of policies like international reference pricing or similar types of regulation argue people who live in other countries pay substantially less for drugs than we do in the United States, and that is true in many cases, but what happens as a result of that is that their citizens experience delays and they experience reduced access to new medical treatments, so that's sort of the tradeoff that you have to think about.
Dr. Peter Emtage, CEO at Santa Ana Bio, venture partner at Versant Ventures: We strive to make sure that patients should have a clear-cut path to current standards of care. I think we have an onus as a society to make sure that access to those drugs across every demographic in the US is there and set.
Dr. Brian D. Smith: A simple step like price regulation is unlikely to solve the problems of a complex adaptive system like the pharmaceutical innovation ecosystem. It’s also likely to have unintended consequences, in some cases reducing innovation or redirecting where innovation goes.
Sue Peschin: Things that matter to patients are not incorporated into these types of policies, and that's where we really need to start because medical innovation is really about treating people, and it matters what people with the given condition care about, and that needs to be a part of the equation.