And just like that, the goodwill is gone

THOUGHT: The reports of “pharma goodwill” were premature. At least three major pharmaceutical companies are ringing in the new year by raising drug prices on a range of products, according to Reuters, in the midst of a pandemic that has taken a serious toll on healthcare systems and limited regular interactions with patients. Business as usual.

I guess it’s naive of me to expect pharma to really be patient centered. The company statements on lobby walls are there for show and don’t mean much. The attitude of pharma seems to be “people need us more than we need them”.

This morning there are more of the same DTC ads, and I notice that drug prices are going up again. Like in The Godfather, “it’s nothing personal; it’s business.”

The trade media has been abuzz with pharma predictions in the coming year, but I guess that management has not learned a damn thing. To them, it will continue to be about sales and profits.

President-elect Biden will challenge the pharma lobby, and I still believe that eventually, the government will negotiate prices for Medicare way down. I also expect insurers to start pushing back on me-too drugs unless there is a substantial price difference.

What about DTC marketing? I don’t expect many changes. Sure, some will dabble in new digital initiatives, but for the most part, the formula is TV ads with a website.

And what of the goodwill that pharma got because of vaccine development? The media will ensure that it doesn’t last. They’ll run stories about drug prices and pharma company profits that will all but ensure the goodwill has completely evaporated.

It’s a business. As long as Americans remain unhealthy they will need prescription drugs. Forget the predictions because I predict more of the same.