We cannot take progress for granted

We are in a new era of medical discovery and have the potential to revolutionize the treatment of costly and debilitating diseases. But we must not take this progress for granted.  To ensure medical innovation continues for the benefit of patients we need public policies that reward the investment and time it takes to develop life-saving treatments and cures.

In order to enhance competition and improve affordability for patients, our country must:

1)    Make medicines more affordable by rewarding value

 Today, America’s Biopharmaceutical Companies are partnering with health insurers to improve how we pay for medicines. Prices for medicines may vary based on how well an individual responds to treatment, or agreements may lower co-pays if patients achieve better health outcomes. While these partnerships will vary, they are helping to ensure we get the right medicine to the right patient at the right time – improving care and lowering costs across the health care system.

Yet, outdated regulations prevent wider use of these new payment arrangements.  Government rules and regulations should not prevent the private sector from developing better ways to pay for medicines. Rather, we must ensure health plans can cover more of the newest medicines and give patients more choices – improving care and lowering health care costs for Americans.

2)    Ensure patients get the best deal on medicines

America’s Biopharmaceutical Companies often negotiate large rebates for prescription medicines with insurers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). Those rebates are growing every year and now exceed $100 billion per year – helping to hold down health care costs for patients and taxpayers.

But we can do more to ensure patients benefit directly from these negotiated savings, and put an end to an unfair practice that requires patients to buy medicines at full price, even when their insurers get a rebate. In fact, patients with large deductibles can end up paying more than their insurer pays for their medicine.  That’s wrong. Health insurance companies should share with patients the discounts they receive. This could lower out-of-pocket costs for some patients by hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars every year.

3)    Make new breakthroughs accessible, and promote competition

We need to make it make it easier for patients to get access to breakthrough medicines. It simply takes too long to get new medicines approved – over 10 years and over one billion dollars, on average.  Outdated regulations and approaches for evaluating drugs can slow things down even more. To get medicines approved faster, while ensuring safety, we need to modernize the FDA with new technologies and expertise to keep up with 21st century science. Modernizing the FDA will bring down the time and cost of developing new medicines, which will bring medicines to patients faster, and enhance competition in the market.

We also need to reduce the backlog of applications for generic medicines at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  This will ensure that patients benefit as less expensive generic medicines replace higher cost treatments that have lost patent protection. 

At the same time, we must avoid policies that deter risk-taking or siphon funding away from the research and development of new medicines for patients. Learn more about our plan to build a sustainable, science-based health care system that harnesses today’s hopes to discover tomorrow’s cures here.

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