The Drugs Cost Reduction Now Act (HR 3) and similar proposals continue to appear in Congress with the purported aim of lowering prescription drug prices and improving medicare. The problem is, such propositions are shortsighted and ultimately lead to inferior quality, fewer options, and diminished health outcomes.
HR 3, which has been around for years and since a vampire doesn’t seem to die, would cap prescription drug prices at no more than 120% of the prices paid in six countries (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom). -United). The theory is that by importing foreign price controls from these countries, Medicare, Medicaid, and private payers could save hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade.
At first glance, it seems like a great idea to have lower drug prices as is the case in these countries. The problem is that the governments of these countries set artificially low reimbursements for drugs – in other words, they use a socialist and harsh system of drug pricing.
If HR 3 or something like that were to pass, it would drain the lifeblood of the pharmaceutical industry, where we would certainly see a drastic reduction in investments in biomedical research and development.
According to data highlighted by the California Life Sciences Association, by incorporating foreign price controls into the only Medicare Part D program, HR 3 would result in a 58% reduction in pharmaceutical industry revenues, “significantly reducing the investment capital available for partnerships and licensing agreements with emerging companies, and would therefore lead to a reduction in new drugs developed by small American biotechnology companies.
Thus, HR 3 would drastically reduce the development of new therapies to treat some of the world’s most pressing health problems: cancer, rare diseases, lupus, Alzheimer’s disease and many more.
Plus some of those foreign countries that HR 3 would have America emulate, including UK and Canada, make drug reimbursement and coverage decisions based on quality-weighted life year (QALY) cost-effectiveness assessments. QALY assessments are based on what authorities consider the value of living with a health problem versus being “perfectly healthy”.
Thus, QALYs assign a lower value to treatments for people who are expected to live fewer years, to treatments for populations that are expected to have a shorter lifespan (including people born with a disability) and, by default, treatment focused on populations who have faced historical inequalities in the health care system.
In the same vein, some members of Congress wish link Medicare drug prices to Department of Veterans Affairs prices (VIRGINIA). Yet the VA system not only uses QALY assessments that discriminate against older people, people with disabilities, and communities of color, but also applies a unique method that restricts access to medicines to such a degree that most VA recipients. rely on other sources, including Medicare Part D, to supplement their drug coverage.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen firsthand the impressive capacity of American scientists to produce vaccines at record speeds. Government price controls would create a huge barrier to innovation and leave many patients, especially the most vulnerable, dry and waiting to die.
We need scientists to continue to research and develop breakthrough drugs. Sacrificing future innovation for short-term financial savings would ultimately hurt patients.
Indeed, the concept of “pay it forward” could hardly be more compelling than in the case of finding life-saving therapies and treatments for our most pressing health challenges. The selfishness implicit in the injection of socialist price controls into the pharmaceutical market is astounding.
This is why the Congress should once and for all engage an issue at the heart of HR 3 and those close to it.