Pharma companies are their​ own worst enemy

SUMMARY: The Times said, “The drugmaker Novartis concealed manipulated data from the Food and Drug Administration while applying for approval of an extremely expensive gene therapy treatment and then delayed reporting the issue.” How could this happen in an industry that relies so much on meetings and data?

“The news that a drugmaker had manipulated or mishandled data is an unsettling moment for the pharmaceutical industry.” That could be the understatement of the year!

Those of us who work in the industry are aware of the endless meetings and system of checks and balances that add time to even minor business decisions Yet, here we have the most expensive drug in the world that has an issues with manipulated data. Novartis is telling us that “the drug is still safe” but can we really trust them?

97% of drug assistance programs excluded uninsured patients

According to JAMA “in this cross-sectional study of 6 independent charity organizations that included 274 patient assistance programs in 2018, 97% of the programs excluded uninsured patients, and the most common income eligibility limit was 500% of the federal income poverty level. In the drug-level analysis, the median 2016 Medicare Part D spending per beneficiary was $1157 for medications covered by these programs compared with $367 for the medications not covered. The majority of independent charity patient assistance programs in this study did not cover uninsured patients and were more likely to cover more expensive medications.

The measure of a nation’s healthcare system is not only how we treat the insured but how we treat and manage the uninsured. Obviously we’re not doing a decent job.

For the life of me I can’t understand why a drug company would not go out of their way to offer patients, who can’t afford medications, assistance. Last year we did an extensive project to completely overhaul their drug assistance program including different levels of qualification but to this day our recommendations and findings remain buried in a corporate bureaucracy.

A trade magazine is featuring the “the top 100 pharma influencers” this month. I have to ask “are they influencing the right things?”. I’m not sure but the the thing I’m most sure of is that our industry needs change…NOW!