The adults have arrived

THE SKINNY: President elect Biden has already started to bring science back to the White House but it’s going to take a lot of time to earn the trust of a skeptical public.

This was a close election, far closer than it should have been, and there is simply no excuse for that. Trump intentionally turned his back on Americans in the face of a national emergency. A quarter million Americans are dead, and hundreds of thousands more are likely to die, because he prioritized his own reelection prospects over saving American lives. He lied about the danger of COVID-19, over and over, causing other people to lie as well. That’s not forgivable—it’s actually beyond any reasonable capacity to forgive, or forget.

For all the time Democrats spent debating Medicare for All, competing for public insurance options, and sweeping federal controls over drug prices, the near-term future for health policy will likely be about gridlock and incrementalism at a time when our healthcare is in danger of serious cost escalations.

Pharma has already spent billions lobbying Congress so drug price controls are not likely to be implemented anytime soon.

The biggest challenge, however, is going to be restoring trust in science and letting science drive our decisions when it comes to COVID and new drug approvals. Given the division within our country, it’s going to be a huge task.

Already there is skepticism around the arrival of Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug. Although the FDA is likely to approve the product, several physicians found a quick call that they are highly skeptical, especially if the drug is priced high.

What about pharma DTC? I had the opportunity to look at some preliminary research and it indicates that the level of trust in pharma companies is “relatively low”. There seems to be a view within pharma that patients need us more than we need them. That’s a fool’s bet.

Today patients have a lot of treatment choices as drug companies slice into each other’s share with “me-too” products. This means that pharma is going to have work very hard to keep existing patients and win over new ones.

I’m an optimist and I believe that Biden can and will work to restore trust in science, the FDA, and the CDC. Pharma, however, should not take that for granted.