According to incoming PhRMA Chairman Robert Hugin (chairman and CEO of Celgene), the advocacy group’s agenda in the coming year will target policies that “most directly affect innovation and patient access to medicines.”
Starting with Medicare, PhRMA will focus the conversation on why policies that seek to control costs by targeting drug spending will hurt patients. Hugin: “We have to have a good defense; we have to play this part of the game.”
In short, it falls to PhRMA to lead the fight for “sustainable innovation.”
Hugin highlights two main areas of concern related to Medicare. First, he said. “We have to protect Medicare Part D. It is the role model for market-based solutions.” Next he pointed to an increasing concern in industry with retaining adequate reimbursement for drugs provided under Medicare Part B (generall administered by physicians). The growth in very high-priced specialty drugs, such as targeted cancer therapies, is contributing to a new focus among payers on containing Part B drug costs.
Hugin: “We have to defend Part B. We have to ensure that reimbursement rates don’t change so significantly that access to patients for those types of medicines, physician-administered, are restricted, and [that] leads patients back to hospitals and higher [overall medical] costs.”
Among the other advocacy priorities, Hugin points to the need to “ensure the 340B program is administered effectively and appropriately.”
According to Hugin, PhRMA will also focus on making sure the 12-year marketing exclusivity available to biologics under the law for biosimilars “is maintained, not just in this country, but in all the trade agreements that our country negotiates.” He also said that industry must “assertively defend intellectual property all across the globe.”
As per state exchanges and other codicils of the Affordable Care Act, Hugin stressed that, “We have to make sure that we support initiatives that … do not restrict access to important innovative medicines for patients all across this country.” And he vowed to “continue the fight” to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which was established by the ACA.
The biopharmaceutical industry, per Chairman Bob, must continue to support FDA and ensure “proper funding” of drug review programs “so that we have a 21st century regulatory science system that allows us, in the most cost-effective and rapid way, to bring new therapies to patients.” He commented that the trade association’s experience in negotiating the most recent prescription drug user fee act reauthorization bill, which was enacted last year with bipartisan support, was a “remarkably” positive one.
Nobody said it was going to be easy.