Price Controls By Any Other Name

  • by: |
  • 01/11/2007
I gobbled a handful of reimported Xanax from Rahm Emanuel's Reimported Drug Emporium (Same Taste. None of the Ingredients) and strapped myself into my office chair to watch the Senate Finance Committee hearings on Medicare price control proposals.

Four major takeaway points:

1. Ron Wyden and Olympia Snowe are clueless about the impact their bill would have on biotechnology and breakthrough drug investment. It would allow any plan pissed off about the price of the unique products for cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's or innovative medicines to run to the government and demand 'negotiation' using such tools as seizure of all records and receipts and other data to see if the price was justified. Certain prices and certain drugs would set off an automatic trigger for direct government negotiation. That's called punishing success and a recipe for destroying partnerships between NIH, academia and private companies -- most of which yield information but no commercially successful products. Wyden's bill will kill off innovation and lead to influence peddling.

2. Most Senators are clueless about what drug development is and what drug companies do with respect to science. That is the drug industry's fault. And it's NIH's fault for not having the guts to say we rise and fall together instead of offering Senators this self-serving garbage that it is somehow the only wellspring of biomedical innovation. Companies had better get to work explaining their scientific enterprise, risks and all.

3. Senator Baucus made a throwaway comment as he was leaving about giving NIH more power to conduct more comparative effectiveness studies like ALLHAT and CATIE and information on what goes into drug pricing. This endorsement of evidence based medicine is misguided. Again, companies need to bring scientists and clinicians to explain why it is misguided and offer a patient-centered and personalized approach to prescribing. Like the Borg, the price control and formulary advocates will recalibrate their arguments to talk about cost-effectiveness as the benchmark for such decisions. That Commonwealth Fund lackey Gerard Anderson who is at Johns Hopkins (maybe he is the affirmative action hire for the intellectually mediocre) actually endorsed the Australian C-E guidelines as a backup for how drugs should be rationed at the hearing.

4. The community pharmacy lobby had better stay far, far away from Charles Grassley who did a great job defending Part D today... I disagree strongly with Grassley's grandstanding on drug safety but he had the opposition for lunch today. And he had the Democrats who were promising the community pharmacists higher dispensing fees in exchange for their support of their bill dead to rights. Grassley wanted to know how pharmacy lobby leadership could support a bill that would lead to the elimination of community drugstores.....

Oh, no one wants price controls and formularies...except Shameless Schumer. As I said in my previous post he should put his money where he mouth is..if there's room. If he thinks the VA exception process is so liberal let him follow the same procedures VA members go through....

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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