“How to Make Medicine More Expensive.”

“How to Make Medicine More Expensive.”

That’s the appropriate title of a Wall Street Journal editorial released earlier this week, which opines on a trend in state capitals to further regulate pharmaceutical manufacturers. The center of recent news is a so-called transparency bill moving through the Nevada legislature that would require biotech companies to disclose sensitive and proprietary information that no other industry is forced to release.

The Wall Street Journal explained why the bill will do nothing to lower drug costs and why NV Governor Brian Sandoval was right to veto the measure:

“The state would have decided what counts as an ‘essential’ diabetes medicine, including insulin and others. Manufacturers would be required to disclose the cost of production and marketing, as well as profits and more. That information is proprietary and hard to calculate, as the cost of medicines is influenced by research and development over many years. …

“In his veto message, Mr. Sandoval rightly said the bill ‘fails to account for market dynamics that are inextricably linked to health care delivery and access to prescription drugs.’”
Following the Governor’s veto, a new bill emerged that contains many of the same flaws as the first bill. This new proposal is headed to the Governor’s desk and it’s still a bad deal for those residing in The Silver State. Unfortunately, Nevada isn’t the only place where policymakers are pushing a flawed response to the drug price debate.

In California, lawmakers are also moving a “transparency” bill that would lead to harmful consequences for patients and families. Steven Mento, CEO of Conatus Pharmaceuticals, and Rich Pascoe, CEO of Apricus Biosciences, recently wrote in the San Diego Union-Tribune why the “misleading drug pricing bill is wrong prescription” for the people of California:

“As the CEOs of San Diego-based bioscience companies committed to delivering affordable, cutting-edge treatments to patients, we feel compelled to warn our representatives that this bill is a red herring. If enacted, it won’t lower the price of drugs, but it will drain investment in new medicines and make it more difficult to deliver breakthrough therapies to patients

“Employment in San Diego County’s life science industry has increased by 20 percent over the past five years. We have 1,255 life science establishments that employ nearly 50,000 San Diegans. Our elected officials must not take this growth for granted, for it is dependent upon our ability to attract investment. If enacted, SB 17 would threaten our region’s economic and scientific progress.

“Patients throughout our city have legitimate concerns about access to affordable drugs, but SB 17 does not address them. It is the wrong prescription for California. We still have time to come up with a holistic solution that doesn’t impede investment or thwart commercialization of lifesaving therapies that patients across the world are counting on us to deliver.

Fortunately for patients and consumers, there is a solution that would spur the development and delivery of lifesaving treatments and lower health costs. The Council for Affordable Health Coverage — a coalition comprised of insurers, drug manufacturers, consumers, patients, and more — just last month released a set of policy recommendations that will help address prescription drug costs while also increasing patient access and choice. The policy solution is based on five key pillars:

  • Increasing competition;
  • Rewarding value;
  • Improving data infrastructure and use;
  • Empowering consumers; and
  • Preserving what works.

The work of the Council further proves there are commonsense, free-market solutions that will help lower drug costs and make a positive impact in the lives of patients. In fact, as BIO President and CEO Jim Greenwood said of the policy recommendations:

“[They] demonstrate that our industry is serious about following through on our commitment to engage with a broad range of stakeholders to identify and advocate for sound reforms that will improve the ability of patients to obtain and afford the innovative medicines they need – now and in the future.”

Now, that’s something state and federal policymakers should all support.

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