By Debra Barrett, Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs, James Gelfand, ERIC and Andrew MacPherson, Public Sector HealthCare Roundtable
A little over a year from now, Americans will go to the polls to choose a president and their representatives up and down the ballot. As we head into 2020, concerns about the cost of health care that Americans are grappling with every day, like high drug prices, are top of mind. At a moment when nearly 8 in 10 Americans say the cost of prescription drugs is unreasonable, Congressional action on drug prices is needed.
The stakes are too high to wait. Over 60% of Americans are currently on a prescription drug. And every month, millions of Americans struggle to pay for these prescription drugs. Earlier this year, research sponsored by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs helped detail the substantial impact brand drug companies’ manipulation of our patent and regulatory system has on the marketplace. The report showed how brand drug companies use anticompetitive tactics to delay the entry of generic competition and sustain monopolies and identified the potential for more than $30 billion in savings if we can stop the games and increase timely competition.
Additionally, a series of reports by I-MAK Global has revealed how just one of these anticompetitive tactics, the use of patent thickets to delay generic competition, costs patients and payors billions of dollars. According to I-MAK, 247 patent applications have been filed on a specific drug used to treat arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. European patients currently enjoy lower-cost competition to the drug today, but American patients will continue to pay $14.4 billion in higher prices until competition is allowed to enter the U.S. market in 2023.
The good news is that there are some targeted fixes already pending final approval in Congress, and more are on the way. The CREATES Act and similar bills would limit brand drug companies’ ability to withhold samples from generic applicants, abuse the FDA’s citizen petition process and would help clean up illegitimate and expired patents from the FDA’s records to allow generic competitors to enter the market faster.
Other legislation introduced in the Senate would target anticompetitive patent thickets and “product-hopping” schemes to delay competition. These bills would produce significant savings for patients and the U.S. health care system overall. These reforms are long-overdue and stand to produce real and immediate relief for patients at the pharmacy counter.
While these fixes are important, there is no denying the need for even more significant reform that puts a stop to abuse of the patent and regulatory system for the long-term. This will speed up generic competition and lower prices for patients. Americans can’t wait, and Congress should not let 2019 pass us by and leave savings on the table that patients desperately need. There are billions at stake for government programs, taxpayers and patients.
The Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs (CAPD) is a diverse group of large and small employers, unions, public sector employees and retirees and the pharmacy benefit managers they partner with to provide more affordable prescription drug coverage for millions of Americans.
ERIC helps America’s largest employers stay ahead of employee benefit policy. We are creating a community of corporate benefits leaders by keeping member companies informed and lobbying on their behalf to shape national and state benefit policies.
Only ERIC provides the combination of intel, expertise, collaboration, and lobbying that exclusively serves the interests of large employers who provide health, retirement, and compensation benefits to their nationwide workforce.
About Public Sector HealthCare Roundtable
The Public Sector HealthCare Roundtable is a non-partisan, member-directed coalition that exists to give public sector health care purchasers and State and local health plan administrators a voice in the design, development, and implementation of national health care policy. The Roundtable does this by providing in-depth policy analysis and a forum to collectively engage with key decision-makers in Washington, D.C. Benefits provided by Roundtable members have a far-reaching positive impact on the State economies and help to fuel a robust provider network and health care delivery system that benefits all citizens.