Pharma agencies can no longer remain silent

KEY IDEA:  Agencies make a lot of money from pharma companies, but they can no longer to afford the industry we love be dragged down by companies that continue to make decisions.  We have to be honest and open and tell pharma that they continue to dig deeper holes even as they talk about being patient centric.

A government report looked at overall price increases amongst the top 20 most commonly prescribed brand-name drugs for seniors, and comes as rising drug prices represent an increasingly serious cost driver for all Americans. This increased spending is also trickling down to Medicare beneficiaries. According to one independent study, Medicare beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs is expected to increase from 41 percent of per capita Social Security income in 2013 to 50 percent in 2030.

The report’s key findings include:

  • Prices increased for every brand-name drug of the top 20 most-prescribed brand-name drugs for seniors in the last five years. On average, prices for these drugs increased 12 percent every year for the last five years—approximately ten times higher than the average annual rate of inflation.
  • Twelve out of the 20 most commonly prescribed brand-name drugs for seniors had their prices increased by over 50 percent in the five-year period. Six of the 20 had prices increases of over 100 percent. In one case, the weighted average wholesale acquisition cost for a single drug increased by 477 percent over a five-year period.
  • Although 48 million fewer prescriptions were written for the top 20 most commonly prescribed brand-name drugs for seniors between 2012 and 2017, total sales revenue resulting from these prescriptions increased by almost $8.5 billion during the same period

Are any of the agencies that work with Novartis going to communicate their dismay at the recent news that Novartis paid Mr Cohen $1.2 million as a consultant?  How about agencies that work with Gilead, a company that bought a cure for Hep-C and priced it in the stratosphere?

The answer of course is no.  Too many agencies see pharma as a cash cow and don’t want to do anything to upset the deposit slips.  Their conscience is being buried by invoices and paychecks.

There are people who work within the industry because they are paid well, but there are also people, like me, who work in the industry because we love it.  We have listened to, first hand, the stories of patients via research and how our products have helped them lead better, more productive lives.

With the birth of blockbuster drugs came a change within our industry.  Profits and sales became more important that patients and CEO’s first customers became Wall Street.  Many agencies jumped on the bandwagon for the ride and they are not willing to do anything that may upset clients even though it’s the right thing to do.  This is unacceptable.

If agencies don’t vocalize the troubles of our industry then they will sink with it and nobody can say “we didn’t warn you”.

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