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Posts Tagged ‘Price Controls’
July 24th, 2020 at 4:10 pm
CFIF Opposes White House Executive Order Importing Foreign Nations’ Socialized Medicine and Drug Price Controls
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Regrettably, the White House today announced an executive order that effectively imports drug price controls from foreign nations with socialized healthcare systems.  We at CFIF strongly oppose the order and encourage immediate reconsideration.  Below is CFIF President Jeffrey Mazzella’s statement:

“Price controls simply do not work, regardless of the product targeted or the location they’re attempted, and real-world experience establishes that pharmaceutical price controls are no different.  The new executive order would impose what’s known as an International Pricing Index (IPI) for U.S. drugs administered by the federal government, meaning that foreign governments’ drug price controls would suddenly control our own reimbursement rates.  That would upend our current system, which has actually already reduced the cost of the 50 most popular Medicare Part B drugs sold by approximately 1%.  Our current system already includes the discounts negotiated between hospitals, healthcare plans and payers.  In contrast, foreign governments whose price control schemes we would import don’t negotiate, but instead dictate prices while threatening to violate patent rights and employ a ‘take it or leave it’ approach.

“As a direct consequence of foreign nations’ price control approaches that disrespect patent rights, those nations receive far fewer new lifesaving and life-improving drugs than American consumers.  For example, 96% of all new cancer drugs over the past decade were made available to U.S. consumers.  In contrast, only 56% of those same drugs became available in Canada, only 50% became available in Japan and only 11% in Greece, as just three examples.  Simply put, consumers in nations whose governments impose drug price controls don’t enjoy access to nearly as many new drugs as Americans, or nearly as soon.  As The Wall Street Journal found, that’s why America outpaces European nations in terms of cancer survival rates, among other advantages.

“Even the Trump Administration itself has highlighted the destructive effect of importing foreign price controls.  In 2018, its Council of Economic Advisers affirmed that, “If the United States had adopted the centralized drug pricing policy in other developed nations twenty years ago, then the world may not have highly valuable treatments for diseases that required significant investment.”

“Currently, the United States accounts for nearly two-thirds of all new drugs introduced worldwide, and our more market-oriented system and protection of patent rights explains why.  Very few potential new drugs ever reach the market, due to astronomical research and development costs, lengthy government safety tests, laboratory effectiveness trials, possible product liability lawsuits, patent protection limitations and other bureaucratic hassles.  Imposing artificial price controls would add to those headwinds by making it less possible to recover the massive costs of developing new medicines and R&D, leading to fewer new drugs for U.S. consumers.

“Instead of importing foreign nations’ price control schemes and their consequences, America should be exporting our superior system to their shores.

“Today’s executive order contravenes the Trump Administration’s broader agenda of deregulation, free-market approaches and strong intellectual property (IP) protections.  Hopefully, the White House quickly realizes the potentially catastrophic consequences of this order, lest American consumers suffer in the same way as consumers in the foreign nations that impose the price controls that it now seeks to import.

“In his State of the Union Address earlier this year, President Trump reassured Americans that, ‘To those watching at home tonight, I want you to know that we will never let socialism destroy American healthcare.’  Unfortunately, the White House’s executive order announced today regarding drug prices would do precisely that.

“We therefore urge President Trump to reconsider this potentially catastrophic order in the strongest possible terms.”

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July 10th, 2020 at 4:47 pm
Biden Drug Plan Would Slash Innovation and U.S. Consumer Access
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Joe Biden’s inexorable march toward the fanatical left continued this week, as he and Bernie Sanders (D – Vermont) introduced their “unity platform” in anticipation of this year’s Democratic convention.  We can thus add weaker U.S. patents and drug price controls imported from foreign nations to Biden’s existing dumpster fire of bad ideas.

Here’s the problem.  As we’ve often emphasized, and contrary to persistent myth, American consumers enjoy far greater access to new lifesaving drugs than people in other nations, including those in “other advanced economies” (Biden’s words) whose price controls Biden seeks to import:

Of all new cancer drugs developed worldwide between 2011 and 2018, 96% were available to American consumers.  Meanwhile, only 56% of those drugs became available in Canada, 50% in Japan, and just 11% in Greece, as just three examples.  Patients in nations imposing drug price controls simply don’t receive access to new pharmaceuticals as quickly as Americans, if they ever receive them at all.”

Even the World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledges that overseas consumers’ lower access to pharmaceutical innovations stems from their governments’ imposition of price control regimes:

Every time one country demands a lower price, it leads to lower price reference used by other countries.  Such price controls, combined with the threat of market lockout or intellectual property infringement, prevent drug companies from charging market rates for their products, while delaying the availability of new cures to patients living in countries implementing those policies.”

Just as dangerously, Biden also advocates weaker patent protections for U.S. pharmaceutical innovators.  The United States has throughout its history led the world in protecting patent and other intellectual property (IP) rights, and as a direct result we’re the most innovative, inventive, prosperous nation in recorded history.  The U.S. claims just 4% of the world’s population, and even our  world-leading economy accounts for less than 25% of global production, yet we account for an amazing two-thirds of all new pharmaceuticals introduced to the world.  Public policy should be strengthening patent rights, not weakening them.

Biden rationalizes his socialized medicine proposal by asserting that “taxpayers’ money underwrites the research and development of many prescription drugs in the first place.”  But as we’ve also noted, private pharmaceutical investment in R&D dwarfs public funding, so he can’t justify his heavy-handed bureaucratic idea on that basis.

Just three months into the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, American pharmaceutical innovators are already entering final testing phases, far ahead of original estimates of their anticipated arrival.  That should come as no surprise, because we’ve long led the world.  But it emphasizes even more that Biden’s toxic proposal to impose foreign drug price controls and to weaken U.S. patent protections is particularly dangerous at a moment like this.

 

February 24th, 2020 at 4:44 pm
Sen. McSally Must Avoid the Trap of Counterproductive Prescription Drug Legislation
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Senator Martha McSally (R – Arizona) has broadly proven herself a stalwart ally of conservatives, libertarians and the Trump Administration in her brief tenure on Capitol Hill.  A former U.S. Air Force A-10 pilot, her votes have confirmed President Trump’s phenomenal array of judicial nominees and advanced his economic agenda to bring us arguably the greatest economic conditions in history.

She must be careful, however, to avoid potentially catastrophic missteps on the issue of healthcare and prescription drugs.

Specifically, Sen. McSally has introduced legislation and supported other Senate Finance Committee proposals that would introduce drug price controls from socialist foreign healthcare systems to the U.S., empower the Department of Health and Human  Services (HHS) to directly and bureaucratically negotiate pharmaceutical prices, allow importation of potentially dangerous drugs from foreign countries and introduce components that would erode our world-leading patent system.

It’s not by accident that the U.S. accounts for over two-thirds of all new lifesaving and life-improving pharmaceuticals introduced to the world – it’s the direct result of our strong patent protections here, and our more market-oriented approach.  In contrast, foreign nations that have introduced the principles contained in some of Sen. McSally’s legislation and bills that she supports inevitably suffer shortages, as even the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) has acknowledged:

Every time one country demands a lower price, it leads to lower price reference used by other countries.  Such price controls, combined with the threat of market lockout or intellectual property infringement, prevent drug companies from charging market rates for their products, while delaying the availability of new cures to patients living in countries implementing those policies.

Of all new cancer drugs developed worldwide between 2011 and 2018, 96% were available to American consumers. Meanwhile, only 56% of those drugs became available in the Canda, 50% in Japan and just 11% in Greece, as just three examples. Patients in nations imposing drug price controls simply don’t receive access to new pharmaceuticals as quickly as Americans, if they ever receive them at all.

Senator McSally mustn’t sacrifice her conservative principles on behalf of prescription drug legislation that will make matters worse for American consumers, not better.  She should withdraw her proposed bill and renounce the Senate Finance Committee’s proposal, and instead support more market-based solutions that have proven effective not only with pharmaceuticals, but across all economic realms.

February 3rd, 2020 at 4:46 pm
President Trump Should Again Reject Socialism, Including HHS’s Drug Price Control Proposal

During his 2019 State of the Union address, President Donald Trump confidently stated, “We will never be a socialist country.”  Today, however, his Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is pushing an International Pricing Index (IPI) proposal, a socialist policy idea that would peg what Medicare Part B pays for prescription drugs to prices in other developed countries. Simply stated, the IPI proposal would require the U.S. to adopt the price controls of foreign nations that have socialized medicine policies.

Here’s hoping that at this year’s SOTU, President Trump sticks to his guns and continues to reject socialist policies, including HHS’s destructive IPI proposal.

To understand how bad the IPI proposal is, consider this: Its two most vocal proponents in Congress are Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and self-proclaimed socialist Senator Bernie Sanders.

Speaker Pelosi’s proposed H.R. 3, among other things, applies the IPI rate-setting model to the U.S. drug market.  It’s noteworthy that the White House Council of Economic Advisors rightly says that, “the threat [H.R. 3] poses to continued medical innovation will harm American patients in ways that far outweigh any benefits.”  That’s because rate setting restricts access to life saving medicines.  For example, in many European counties, patients have to wait about a year, sometimes longer, to access new cancer medicines.  No patient should suffer that risk. In the U.S., in contrast, patients wait an average of only 3 months and have access to a far greater variety of medicines.

The IPI proposal would also diminish U.S. economic leadership in biopharma innovation.  That industry is an economic engine that supports 4 million U.S. jobs and invests billions of dollars in R&D in the United States – roughly $80 billion in 2018 alone.

Simply put, HHS’s misguided IPI proposal amounts to socialized medicine. If President Trump is true to his declaration at last year’s SOTU, he will banish it to the dustbin of history.

October 29th, 2019 at 10:08 am
Pelosi Healthcare Proposal H.R. 3 Isn’t Just Destructive, It’s Likely Unconstitutional
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Alongside other conservative and libertarian organizations, we at CFIF have been highlighting the clear and present danger of Nancy Pelosi’s (D – California) proposed healthcare legislation H.R. 3 in letters to Congress and commentaries.

Pelosi’s bill includes an astonishing 95% tax on total pharmaceutical sales – not on profits, but sales – for private companies that don’t play ball to Pelosi’s satisfaction. Her proposal would also impose foreign price controls, completely restructure the popular Medicare Part D program, and create a compulsory arbitration mechanism overseen by government bureaucrats…  Pelosi’s legislation would jeopardize nearly $1 trillion in U.S. pharmaceutical investment, undermine patent protections, suffocate drug innovation and ultimately punish consumers. That’s far too high a price to pay, and responsible members of Congress must therefore stop Pelosi’s bill in its tracks.”

Now, a new nonpartisan Congressional legal analysis suggests that it’s also likely unconstitutional.  In fact, the report cites three separate provisions of the Constitution that Pelosi’s effort to commandeer Americans’ healthcare choices under federal bureaucrats’ control:

The Program created by Title I raises a number of legal considerations.  First, because the negotiation under the Program is intended to lower the prices manufacturers can charge for certain selected, single-source drugs, the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment may be implicated.  Second, the Program’s enforcement mechanisms – the excise tax and civil monetary penalties – may raise questions relating to the scope of Congress’s taxing power and the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment.  Third, the Program’s limitation on judicial review may prompt questions regarding Congress’s powers to limit the subject matter jurisdiction of Article III courts.  Finally, in setting forth the parameters of the Program, the language of Title I may implicate certain statutory interpretation questions.”

There’s reason enough for Congress to resolutely reject Pelosi’s H.R. 3 due to the negative impact that her proposal would inflict upon Americans’ healthcare, our world-leading pharmaceutical innovators and our healthcare industry more broadly.  The fact that it’s likely unconstitutional offers another reason to avoid the protracted sort of legal battles that would ensue, so that Congress can work toward solutions that actually improve American healthcare, like stronger patent protections and free-market principles.

 

July 22nd, 2019 at 1:09 pm
Budget Negotiations: CFIF Opposes Use of Drug Price Controls via “Mandatory Inflation Rebates”
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In ongoing negotiations, it’s reported that some are proposing to employ destructive drug price controls as a mechanism to reach a budget agreement.  For multiple reasons that CFIF has highlighted, that poses a potentially catastrophic idea.

Specifically, it appears that debt ceiling negotiations may include a destructive proposal to reduce federal spending levels by targeting $115 billion from Medicare, which would derive largely from alleged “Medicare savings” through instituting a government-imposed mandatory “inflation rebates.”  As we’ve explained, inflation rebate proposals work by penalizing drug innovators with higher taxes whenever their products exceed an arbitrary inflation mark.  Currently, Medicare Part D’s structure works by employing market-based competition to mitigate drug costs via privately-negotiated rebates, meaning that no specific “price” reliably represents that drug’s underlying price.  Accordingly, the proposal would inherently undermine privately-negotiated Part D plan rebates, which the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has said “appear to make the net prices approach the lowest prices obtained in the private sector.”  Indeed, as the Altarum Institute has highlighted, those Part D plans currently achieve greater brand medicine rebates than private insurers.

Critically, it must also be noted that inflation rebate proposals would violate non-interference clauses that facilitate competition among Part D plans, which provide a critical part of Part D’s success in mitigating costs since its inception.  They would also arbitrarily apply to new pharmaceuticals while bypassing generic brands, which now constitute approximately 90% of Part D prescriptions.  The proposal would also inescapably weaken incentives on the part of Part D plan sponsors to negotiate with drug manufacturers and minimize drug spending under a regime of statutorily-imposed rebates, thereby setting a negative precedent for those sponsors.  It also bears emphasis that private-sector limits on drug cost increases already exist via “price protection rebates” that Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) negotiate with manufacturers.

Accordingly, imposing price controls in Medicare Part D would fundamentally undermine its entire market-based model, which would in turn reduce research and development and slow progress toward new and improved medicines.

Adding insult to injury, such a proposal would constitute a raid on Medicare for the benefit of other government spending pork.  During this era of budgetary waste, the last thing that Congress should consider doing is sacrificing Medicare, particularly when affordability and access to pharmaceutical innovations remains such a top public priority.  Budgetary discipline and access to medicines remains a priority of the highest order, but market-oriented solutions, not destructive gimmicks, offer the optimal solution.  Any proposal to target Medicare Part D for mandatory inflation rebates has not been subjected to full review, committee research, hearings or debate.

American citizens, particularly seniors, should not be subjected to that danger.

 

April 4th, 2019 at 10:16 am
CFIF Urges Opposition to the Importation of Foreign Price Controls
ALEXANDRIA, VA — In November of last year, the Center for Individual Freedom (“CFIF”) joined with 57 free-market organizations and individuals on a coalition letter opposing the importation of foreign price controls on prescription drugs, a proposal currently under consideration at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”).  In a coalition video released last week, several leading free-market voices, including CFIF, spoke out once again against the perils of imposing foreign price controls.

Unfortunately, recently introduced legislation by Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) entirely ignores that overwhelming opposition from conservatives and the free-market community and seeks to import foreign price controls into the U.S.  This legislation, known as the “Transparent Drug Pricing Act” (S.977), would fix U.S. drug prices to the lowest cost of the same drugs sold in five other countries: Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Japan and Germany.

It is CFIF’s strong belief that importing socialist price controls in an effort to lower drug prices is the wrong approach and will reduce access to medicines, kill innovation and harm patients.  Therefore, CFIF urges Senators not to cosponsor or vote in favor of this harmful legislation.

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February 14th, 2019 at 5:08 pm
Want to Address Drug Costs? Avoid Price Controls, Eliminate PBMs and Don’t Weaken Patents
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In an excellent piece in today’s Wall Street Journal, Scott Atlas of Stanford University highlights how Americans enjoy far greater access to new lifesaving drugs than patients in Europe and elsewhere, and how the movement to impose government price controls would only restrict access to new drugs and degrade Americans’ health outcomes, as we at CFIF have been emphasizing:

America has superior treatment results for virtually all serious diseases reliant on drug treatment, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes.  Price controls would jeopardize that advantage…

Pegging drug prices to those of foreign countries, as both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have proposed, would ultimately lead to the same consequences Europeans endure – reduced access to critical drugs and worse outcomes, including more deaths from disease.”

Mr. Atlas also notes how the Trump Administration has taken positive steps toward actually reducing drug prices, by targeting rebates received by pharmacy-benefit managers (PBMs) from drug manufacturers:

The Trump Administration has announced a proposal to do away with rebates paid by drug manufacturers to pharmacy-benefit managers, replacing them with discounts to beneficiaries at the point of sale.  PBMs are middlemen that control ‘formularies,’ the lists of drugs covered by a plan.  Rebates from drug companies to PBMs are payments for influence – either to position a drug on the formulary as ‘exclusive’ or to give it preferred status over competitors.

PBMs act counter to patient interest while aggravating the lack of price transparency.   These complex behind-the-scenes payments – $179 billion in 2016 – reward inflated list prices, on which patient premiums are often based.  This prevents patients from taking account of price…  Go-betweens like PBMs should be eliminated.”

Finally, and just as critically, Mr. Atlas adds that weakening patent and intellectual property (IP) rights would constitute a particularly destructive course:

Drugs are the most significant reason for the past half-century’s unprecedented gains against deadly disease.  But policies that aim to reduce drug prices – price regulation and weaker patent protection – are also associated with delayed availability, less innovation, and limited access.”

Mr. Atlas delves into statistics showing the enormous advantage that Americans enjoy in terms of new drugs and health outcomes, and his piece is well worth the full read.  Hopefully policymakers at all levels of government are listening.

January 15th, 2019 at 11:31 am
Drug Price Controls Would Kill Innovation
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We at CFIF have been emphasizing the threat posed by new drug price controls inexplicably contemplated by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  In December, CFIF filed formal Comment opposing that ill-advised proposal, and hopefully wiser minds will prevail before the damage is done.  In similar vein, The Wall Street Journal ran a welcome commentary entitled “The Drug Price-Control Threat” on January 8 of this year, and a followup letter from reader Bruce Zessar of Highland Park, Illinois in today’s edition offers a personal, real-world illustration of what could be lost:

Insulin isn’t the same now as when it was discovered a century ago.  My wife is a Type I diabetic, diagnosed when she was 14 in 1980.  She has been a beneficiary of the tremendous advances in insulin therapy during the last four decades, including Lantus and Humalog.  When we got married in 1990, she had to live on a rigid schedule, eating lunch at, say, noon, and then dinner by 6:30-7:00 every day.  That’s becaue of the way prior insulin therapies worked in managing blood sugar.  With the invention of Lantus and Humalog, she can now live a normal life like everyone else.

Insulin is a shining example of why drugs deserve the utmost patent protection to encourage continual innovation.”

Price controls have never worked in any nation that has tried them, or with any commodity.   Few, if any, products are as important to our lives as America’s world-leading pharmaceutical sector, and we mustn’t let the price control scheme contemplated by the HHS kill the goose that continues to lay golden eggs.

August 6th, 2012 at 5:33 pm
The Huge Injustices of Tiny Cartels
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There’s no exercise of government power quite as nauseating when seen up close as a relatively small industry’s attempts to team up with government and either (A) shake down or (B) close down a rival who has built a better mousetrap. In his book “Government’s End: Why Washington Stopped Working” (one of the best political reads of the past few decades, by the way) — a volume dedicated to this trend — Jonathan Rauch describes how Washington D.C. bike messengers, for instance, lobbied heavily against the use of fax machines in the nation’s capital, for no other reason than that they were bad for business (a stand reminiscent of Frederic Bastiat’s famous satirical letter to the French Parliament in which it was claimed that candlemakers were suffering unfair competition from the sun).

This trend is rearing its ugly head again in Washington D.C., where city government is trying to crack down on Uber, one of the great innovations of the smart phone era. Uber is a private car service operating in a handful of major cities that allows you to instantly request a sedan from your smart phone, have it arrive in minutes, and then have all of the billing (including the tip) taken care of straight from your credit card. Uber eliminates all of the inconveniences of the taxi experience (your humble correspondent, for instance, recently waited 45 minutes for a cab in Silicon Valley after being told by dispatchers that it was five minutes away) and usually does so at a cheaper price. And of course, D.C. can’t have that! From the Daily Caller:

Members of the Washington, D.C. City Council haven’t given up on their efforts to bring the efficient and reliable luxury sedan-on-call service, Uber, under the authority of the company’s competitors in the taxicab industry.

Council members previously tried to establish a price floor for the company. More recently, at a July 10 meeting, a number of City Council members voted to bring the sedan service under the authority of the D.C. Taxicab Commission, a regulatory body strongly influenced by the taxi industry.

“I was opposed to them not being regulated, period,” councilman and former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry told The Daily Caller. “This was a compromise. I think if it’s not a regulated service, it really has an impact on the D.C. taxi industry.”

Of course it has an impact! That’s generally what happens when someone decides to build a company that can deliver a better product at a lower price.

Let’s hope Uber can resist the legislative strong-arming. At least they have this going for them: there are few inadvertent blessings as sweet as having Marion Barry be your chief antagonist.