BioPharm companies are Inviting Price Controls By Inaction

  • by: |
  • 10/29/2015
The Kaiser Family Foundation ran another health care survey that asked if people wanted price controls on drugs.  As I wrote after the last KFF price control poll the results are not suprising and consistent with surveys on the subject taken over 50 years.  

Let's set aside the fact that people have also supported price controls on hospitals, gas, oil, cable TV rates, etc.  The polls this time around are being used as part of a broader campaign to impose price controls on a state level and to get the next president to "do something" through executive order.  

Where is a poll that asks people what they think PBM and insurer cost sharing strategies.  In particular, where is the poll taken  after massive negative coverage (similar to that dumped on drug companies) showing how "PBMs to create a preference for drugs and generics that yield the greatest rebates and
profits. What is more, this arrangement actually incentivizes PBMs to promote the drugs for which they receive the largest per-prescription rebate,
rather than the cheapest or best-value prescription."  Or that insurers will pocket rebates and then force consumers to pay up to 40 percent of the cost of the rebated drug.  Or that insurers will create step therapy programs that reinforce their profit margin.

Don't you think Phrma should conduct it's own poll about price controls?  Guess what?  It did.  But the media ignored it as biased.  And a one and done poll will never get traction if it isn't part of a broader conversation. 

The industry will never get the media to cover this.  So it's up to them to invest time and money in a real campaign.  It had no problem forking over $150 million to the campaign to pass Obamacare.  You'd think they'd find the ability and resources to do the same to put drug prices in proper perspective.

If the industry thinks playing nice with it's opponents will work, it will be inviting price controls.   I don't  know how many times I have heard from pharma that they can't attack PBMs and insurers because they are "our" customers.   Meanwhile their customers are deeply involved in pushing price controls and running tough negative media campaigns against them.

There's a point at which concililation and civility is taken too far.  Past that point, it becomes defeat by default.

The collection of companies that comprise the biotech and pharma industry has developed and commercialized more important products than any known to humankind.  It -- and the hundreds of thousands of scientists working for them -- deserve better than to be treated like predators.  


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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