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Opinion: Government price setting isn’t the answer

Opinion: Government price setting isn’t the answer

Beverly Goodell is executive director of Lupus Foundation New England.

The Lupus Foundation New England represents thousands of New Englanders that suffer from chronic conditions as part of their lupus diagnosis which is why we are so concerned over allowing the government to set the price of prescription drugs in Medicare Part D and how it will severely reduce medicine development, innovation and reduce existing treatment options that New Hampshire patients depend on.

At face value, the government “negotiating” drug prices on behalf of Part D beneficiaries sounds great because it is being advertised as price capping.  The average person hears that and wants to support it, many will think it will result in lower out-of-pocket costs at the pharmacy counter.

Unfortunately, this is not true.  The drug price control policy, proposed within the budget reconciliation package currently being considered by Congress, would restrict Part D, and increase government involvement in the healthcare industry. This legislative proposal would grant the government power to arbitrarily set drug prices, the result would be to upend the Medicare marketplace and larger healthcare system.

Government price setting plans may have different names, but each gives politicians control over our medicines and threatens access to treatments and cures. Granite Staters deserve policies that ensure their access to the most effective treatments while also addressing high out-of-pocket costs, but government price setting isn’t one of them.

Regardless of where you sit on the political spectrum, the biopharmaceutical industry has been on the front lines of developing treatments and vaccines not just for COVID-19, but for thousands of other debilitating and life-threatening conditions.

For these individuals, access to their doctor-prescribed medications is essential to their wellbeing. They depend upon innovative treatment options and cutting-edge prescription drugs to manage their conditions successfully. 

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has researched price controls on several occasions and determined government involvement in the Medicare Part D negotiations would not lower drug prices, however, it could limit what drugs are available to patients.

Proponents of this policy seem to think patients respond the same way to prescribed medications, that multiple medications that treat the same disease state are somehow unnecessary. Patients are not the same and cannot be lumped in for cost cutting’s sake.

The proposal would stifle drug innovation as we have seen in other countries that have imposed such price controls.  There is an important scientific reason why we need a healthy and robust investment into R&D and healthcare innovation — nearly 88% of all new drugs being developed don’t make it out of clinical trials and can cost upwards of $2.5 billion and take 15 years to go from lab to patient.

How are we ever going to find a cure for a disease like lupus without serious investments into R&D and healthcare innovation?

There are a lot more losses for drug manufacturers than there are wins which is why a healthy investment environment is critical in developing new treatments for patients. If price controls get forced onto companies, they will be forced to shift those costs to patients through higher list prices outside of the Part D program.

We are strongly asking Senator Hassan and the rest of the New Hampshire delegation to consider the patient first and oppose this legislation.

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