Welcome to the Week in Review.
1. Deflating Big Pharma Lies
- We know that Big Pharma will go to extreme lengths to preserve its monopoly pricing power and egregious profits. It turns out that their fear mongering claims about the Inflation Reduction Act are falling flat. Compared to last year, drug company research & development (R&D) spending is increasing and mergers and acquisition (M&A) is on the uptick, according to a study by ATI Advisory. Big Pharma is flush with cash! Despite Big Pharma’s constant spewing of misinformation, patients are able to steer through this shroud of propaganda and are already feeling relief from the drug price reforms in the Inflation Reduction Act. “Innovation is meaningless if no one can afford it,” wrote Jim from Minnesota in a letter-to-the editor. “Medicare negotiation will finally allow the program to look at whether drug prices are justified and move toward a system that rewards meaningful advances, leading to more innovation.” The historic drug price law is prioritizing patients’ health and financial well-being, while also continuing to enable innovation. — (ATI Advisory, Duluth News Tribune)
2. Patients Need Competition To Lower Prices
- There was more evidence this week that drug companies game our patent and regulatory systems to maintain market exclusivity and charge patients high prices. According to analysis published in JAMA, between 2004 and 2021, a U.S. appeals court found 36 cases in which companies failed to disclose accurate information to the U.S. Patent and Trade Office (USPTO). More than 60 percent of those invalidated patents were attributed to medical products covered by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This draws attention to the question of the genuine “innovation” being brought by these patents filed by drug companies. One of the study’s authors, Sean Tu, argued that the USPTO should improve communication with the FDA to prevent patent abuse. “If somebody asked me how many people are speeding on the highway? I would say I‘ve no idea, but I can tell you how many are caught speeding. And if 50% are driving red Corvettes, then maybe we should look at red Corvettes. In this instance, the companies with FDA-approved products are red Corvettes,” Tu told STAT. “Perversely, patents can also create incentives for innovations that create very little value,” wrote James and Robert Rebitzer in a STAT opinion. They continue to explain that Big Pharma uses secondary patents and other tactics that “offer little benefit to patients and society” and exist purely to extend monopoly periods. That’s why we’re pushing for bipartisan bills that will fix our rigged patent system and close regulatory loopholes to encourage competition and lower drug prices. — (JAMA, STAT, STAT)
3. Insulin Affordability Crisis
- On Monday, the Congressional Black Caucus convened to discuss how diabetes disproportionately affects Black Americans and called for more action to help provide relief for insulin costs. Rep. Shontel Brown cited a study last year that found 23 percent of Black people were rationing their prescribed insulin due to high costs. This devastating reality for many patients who depend on insulin is enabled by rampant patent abuses from the drug corporation cartel that controls the world’s insulin market. Drug companies making insulin products regularly file for multiple patents after FDA approval and extend market exclusivity, according to a study published in PLOS Medicine. While the $35 insulin copay cap in the Inflation Reduction Act for patients on Medicare represents a significant step in the right direction, many people in the U.S. are still facing high costs and can be forced to ration or go completely without their insulin which can be deadly. We will keep fighting to ensure that everyone can access insulin at prices they can afford. — (Cleveland.com, PLOS Medicine)
BONUS: P4AD’s David Mitchell was one of several co-authors on this new paper in Nature that examines the ways that universities and academic medical centers, which receive large amounts of funding from taxpayers, can better ensure medicines including novel gene therapies are priced to maximize public health and lessen the burden that high drug prices impose on patients and society.
Have a great weekend!