HLC Newsletter

Healthcare Leaders Say Increasing Competition, Not Importing Price Controls, Is Key to Bolstering Medicine Affordability

In Testing New Medicare Drug Pricing Approaches, Administration Urged to Utilize Safeguards to Prevent Harm to Americans with Serious Illnesses

WASHINGTON – A coalition of healthcare leaders today commended the Trump Administration’s intent to help make medications more affordable, but said it must be done by continuing to increase competition in the biopharmaceutical marketplace rather than by importing other countries’ government price controls.

Mary R. Grealy, president of the Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC), said the Administration is correct that Americans are paying more than their fair share for biopharmaceutical innovation, “but the answers to this problem should not involve importing foreign price controls that will only slow the development of new treatments and cures for serious illnesses.”

The HLC is comprised of chief executives from all sectors of American healthcare.

Ms. Grealy said a preferable approach to achieving affordability would be to build on the recent successes of the Food and Drug Administration in reducing the backlog of drugs, primarily generics, waiting for federal approval.  “FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has done a tremendous job generating greater competition in the marketplace without the downside that comes from price controls.”

She added, “No one can argue that there is a disparity between prices here and those outside our borders.  The president and Secretary Azar are right that we need do something about the free riders that are benefiting from U.S.-based investments in innovation.  There are inherent flaws, though, in tying our pricing structure to countries that may not have the same market frameworks, economic growth, or disease burdens.  Imitating the free riders, rather than using trade negotiations to press them for change, will only slow the development of new therapies that will actually improve population health and reduce long-term healthcare costs.”

As the Administration tests new Medicare drug pricing approaches through demonstration projects managed by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), Ms. Grealy said care must be taken to avoid mistakes that occurred during the Obama Administration.  In 2016, a mandatory pilot involving Medicare Part B drugs had to be halted over substantial criticism that it was essentially changing federal policy without congressional approval.

“So many of the patients who receive physician-administered drug treatments under Medicare Part B are battling cancer or other life-threatening illnesses,” Ms. Grealy said.  “Any significant changes to drug pricing – and, thus, accessibility – must be tested cautiously and with essential protections so that patient health is not adversely affected.”