Eli Lilly and industry criticize Biden’s drug pricing plan

Eli Lilly says the US Government’s latest pricing plan will restrict access of drugs to patients and restrict industry innovation.

On Thursday, the US Department of Health and Human Services published a plan to address what it describes as prices for prescription drugs that are “higher than any comparable nation.”

The report is based on three guiding principles for drug pricing reform:

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1) To make drug prices more affordable and equitable for all consumers and throughout the health care system by supporting drug price negotiation with manufacturers and stop unreasonable price increases to ensure access to drugs that can improve health for all Americans

2) To improve and promote competition throughout the prescription drug industry by supporting market changes that strengthen supply chains, promote biosimilars and generics, and increase transparency

3) To foster scientific innovation to promote better health care and improve health by supporting public and private research and make sure that market incentives promote discovery of valuable and accessible new treatments, not market gaming.

Anat Ashkenazi, CFO of Eli Lilly, described the plan as being negative for both patients and the industry when asked about the new proposals.

“It’s really a way for government to engage in price controls, which we wouldn’t believe the voters or the American population would want nor is it good for a patient given that it’s going to restrict access to patients and likely restrict access to innovation,” she told delegates at Citi’s 16th Annual BioPharma Virtual Conference.

“We’ve seen some of this transpire in countries outside the US and it has not led to improved health outcomes or reduction in cost for patients,” she continued, adding that such proposals would inhibit or restrict access to innovation for patients in the US.

BIO’s comments

Ashkenazi’s comments follow those of industry advocacy group BIO last month, after President Joe Biden today announced his ambitions to reduce drug prices.

“While we respect and share the president’s desire to make drugs more affordable and accessible for the patients who need them, this plan is the wrong approach. It would upend a popular program, restrict access to critical medicines, and make it more difficult for small, innovative biotech companies to attract the investment they need to discover new medicines that our seniors are waiting for to live more productive, healthier lives,” Rich Masters, BIO’s chief public affairs and advocacy officer, stated.

“By allowing government bureaucrats to set prices with no regard for the long-term impact on patients waiting for cures, the new plan will create massive barriers to medical innovation. Patients suffering from rare diseases – defined as diseases affecting fewer than 200,000 people — will be uniquely disadvantaged by this plan. Right now, 95% of rare diseases have no medicines or treatment options. The medicines that are available for this vulnerable group are precisely the ones this plan would target, eliminating hope for millions of patients.”

Biden is not the first President to receive industry criticism after attempting to tackle drug pricing.

Donald Trump released his own plans to reduce drug pricing in 2020, leading to condemnation by both BIO’s CEO Michelle McMurry-Heath and Big Pharma companies such as Pfizer.

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