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Posts Tagged: "price controls"

The Biden Administration is at an Innovation Crossroad

The new Presidential Administration has hardly settled in before being confronted with a stark choice: will they continue policies that foster public/private sector R&D partnerships or be diverted down a path that’s been a dead-end? President Biden faces two herculean tasks: getting the COVID-19 pandemic under control while reviving the economy. The problems are intertwined and require continuous innovation to overcome, which means tapping the best minds in our public and private sectors. We’ve just witnessed a modern miracle, as such partnerships seamlessly came together to create effective COVID-19 vaccines and therapies in record time. But the policies these collaborations depend on are now being questioned.

Don’t Undermine the Policies Most Likely to Solve the Coronavirus Crisis

To say that the world’s been deeply shaken by the coronavirus (and the disease it causes, known as COVID-19) is no exaggeration. Our stock market has plunged, world trade is disrupted and people around the globe are fearful about confronting a disease that’s erupted out of the blue. Eyes are turning to the United States of America for a solution. There’s a good reason for that: we are far and away the best at developing new therapies to combat the scourge of disease. In all likelihood, a vaccine for the coronarivus will come out of a partnership between our National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the private sector. We have tried and true mechanisms for facilitating these arrangements, which NIH has effectively employed in the past. Our political leaders are well advised to leave them alone. Adding more unpredictability at this stage of the game, such as imposing “reasonable pricing” provisions on a vaccine that doesn’t exist, only adds more uncertainty to the equation. And there’s plenty of that already.

Medical Innovation Depends on Bayh-Dole’s IP Protections

In this age of polarization, it’s almost impossible to imagine Congress enacting bipartisan legislation that would benefit businesses, higher education, and consumers alike. But that is exactly what happened 40 years ago, and it is worth remembering. As has been outlined elsewhere on IPWatchdog in 1980, Democrat Senator Bayh and Republican Senator Dole wrote a bill that seemed simple, but changed the face of American innovation. Prior to the Bayh-Dole law, anyone who accepted government funding of their research had to give any resulting patent rights to the government. Superficially, that sounded fair – if taxpayer money paid for research, the taxpayer should get the benefits. But the reality was that no one benefitted. Few companies had any interest in investing the substantial resources necessary to transform an early invention into a product when the underlying patents were held and controlled exclusively by the government. And those inventions that were developed simply sat on the shelf in government offices with no plans to bring them to market. Senators Bayh and Dole recognized this problem and their bill allowed research institutions to keep possession of the patent rights their research produced.

State Pharmaceutical Importation Programs Threaten Patients and Innovation

In mid-December, President Trump presented a plan to lower prescription drug prices by allowing states, drug wholesalers and pharmacies to import some cheaper drugs from Canada. While reducing the cost of medicines is a laudable goal, pharmaceutical importation programs – if implemented safely and effectively – would fail to deliver the promised savings. And if implemented without the necessary safeguards, they would endanger the lives of countless patients. The plan essentially relies upon importing price controls from Canada, which will both undermine innovation and prove unsustainable. As with many “simple solutions” the devil is in the details. Not surprisingly, the Trump Administration’s plan contains very few details on implementation. And it is precisely those details that are expensive and complicated.

The Price of Price Controls: Innovation Likely to Suffer in Drug Pricing Debate

Is Congress really going to do anything useful with respect to lowering drug prices? When the question is presented that way the answer almost seems painfully obvious. Of course not. The question is just how bad they will mess things up, and will they destroy the incentive to innovate as they attempt to seek a very worthwhile solution for the problem of growing costs for healthcare. Unfortunately, the political climate in the United States has increasingly become more circus and circumspect than bold and visionary. It is better to do something entertaining and memorable that plays to the crowd than to go about the business of governing the country, not just for the moment, but for the future. And the political structures in place create outright gerrymandering that practically ensure the overwhelming percentage of Representatives have more to fear from a primary challenge than from a contender in the general election. It is no wonder nothing truly useful can get accomplished in Washington, DC.

Price Controls and Compulsory Licensing Reduce Patient’s Healthcare Options

Once we go down a path of government price controls and compulsory licensing we will have foregone opportunities for other, more rational policy choices and will soon find ourselves in a race to the bottom. Of course, making prescription drugs more affordable must be an important, shared goal. But the solutions we pursue cannot risk choking off America’s innovative ecosystem that leads the world in discovering new cures and treatments. As Nobel laureate and NIH Director Harold Varmus said in 1995, one must first have a new drug to price before one can worry about how to price it.  Letting our federal government import foreign price controls and expropriate patents is not the way to go about it.

Focus on Stronger IP Incentives: Price Setting is Not the Cure for Healthcare Spending

The WHO is gathering governments, academics and activists in Amsterdam next month to discuss price setting options for medicines. But the so-called Fair Pricing Forum ignores the main driver of higher healthcare spending and will do more harm than good. While there is a pressing need to balance access to affordable medicines and the incentives to innovate, a reactionary focus on prices is misdirected and could have dire consequences for pharmaceutical innovation… The WHO’s exclusive focus on price setting also misses the mark on another issue – medicines are working to extend lives and even to lower overall healthcare spending by eliminating the need for more expensive interventions, such as surgery and hospitalization.

Bayh-Dole Under March-in Assault: Can It Hold Out?

The new year was hardly underway before Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) and 50 of his House colleagues sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell and NIH Director Francis Collins urging them to “march in” under the Bayh-Dole Act to control prices for drugs developed under the law. While the high cost of drugs is a legitimate concern, attempts to address the problem through technology transfer statutes would only guarantee that we will have fewer new drugs, not that they will be cheaper. The march-in provision is intended for instances when a licensee is not making good faith efforts to bring an invention to market or when national emergencies require that more product is needed than a licensee is capable of making, not to fix drug prices.