KEY IDEA: Biopharma has to understand it has responsibilities to a wider community than its own shareholders. Using PR talking points only serve to make pharma executives feel good about themselves while the public and politicians zero in on high drug prices and a lack of transparency.
Have you bought into the PR talking point that high drug prices are necessary because of the value prescription drugs bring to society? If so, it’s time to put down the Kool-Aid. I would argue that although prescription drugs do bring value that the value is negated by those patients who can’t afford these medications. A Vet should not be told by the VA that he has to wait up to two years for a Hep-C drug because they can’t afford to purchase any more.
Pharma executives have responded with more talking points saying that the prices talked about in the media rarely are paid because of wholesale price contracts but that’s garbage. Bloomberg conducted a survey earlier this year of average wholesale prices on brand name drugs, which found that [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=”null”]73 top branded drugs had price increases of 75 percent or more from late 2007 to early 2014.[/inlinetweet] Historically, generic drugs have offered cash-strapped patients a viable alternative for many medications. But a recent analysis published by the Drug Channels Institute found that [inlinetweet prefix=”null” tweeter=”null” suffix=”null”]half of all generic drugs rose in price during the last year — one as much as 1,700 percent[/inlinetweet] — prompting an investigation by Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.). Their inquiry focuses on 10 specific drugs that have experienced considerable price jumps.
According to the Commonwealth Fund, [inlinetweet prefix=”null” tweeter=”null” suffix=”null”]50 million Americans between the ages of 19 and 64 skipped filling a prescription due to cost in 2012.[/inlinetweet] A recent Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs poll found that the high cost of medicine compels Americans to take unnecessary health risks and forces families to make impossible choices, such as having to decide whether to buy medication or groceries yet pharma executives seem deaf to these people.
Until pharma executives join hands and pledge that everyone who needs their drugs will get them pharma will still be seen as big business. Until pharma CEO’s understand the their responsibility extends beyond shareholders they will be immune from the cries of the public as they ride in their corporate jets.