On this episode of the podcast, Terry and Bob discuss the latest on Congressional Democrats’ reconciliation bill, currently being debated, and explain provisions that will directly affect patients’ access to medications. Take the inclusion of H.R. 3, for instance, which will allow the government to set the prices of medicines. They explain how this power will cut off access to today’s medications while also reducing the investment needed to create tomorrow’s cures.
They point out how this provision won’t just impact Big Pharma but also hurt small biotech firms on the cutting edge of medical research. Consider Merck’s new breakthrough drug to treat Covid-19. The company endured years of losses and needs to partly cover those through the price of this medication. Price-setting threatens this pipeline of medical miracles.
Terry and Bob interview Dr. Ron Cohen of Acorda Therapeutics, who explains how negotiation of the type being proposed by the reconciliation bill is so fierce that his company may lose money on every drug it sells. He points out that only one in ten prospective drugs make it to market, so investors need to know that they will get a return commensurate with that risk.
He highlights how an often overlooked fact in the drug debate is how these medications end up belonging to society at little to no cost for decades after the patents expire. This gift to humanity of drug innovation must be considered in any analysis of the consequences of proposed price setting. He calls on the government to make Medicare function more like true insurance, without enormous copays and coinsurance costs associated with claims that financially burden patients.
Kate Pecora interviews Dorothea Lantz, who explains how the reconciliation bill threatens the orphan drug tax credit, which is vital for families like hers with children with disabilities. Eliminating this incentive to innovate would take away the hope from families like hers who desperately need it. She calls on Congress not to pay for its priorities by selling out the rare disease community.