How not to cut prescription drug prices |

As soon as the hammer fell to open the 2022 General Assembly session, the Lamont administration was back with a new prescription drug pricing bill.

SB 13 reflects a laudable goal. However, there are many ways to reduce health care costs, and this bill is not one of them.

In fact, the legislation is counterproductive and displays a blatant misunderstanding of what drives and does not drive health care costs.

Canadian imports

Importing drugs into Canada is impractical on at least three counts.

First, the Canadian government opposes it.

Over the past 10 years, every Canadian jurisdiction, when asked about support for exports to Connecticut, has raised objections – concerns about ensuring an adequate supply of drugs for its own citizens, as well as how Canadian pharmacies, laboratories, suppliers and wholesalers of drugs would meet the safety and efficacy guarantees of the bill.

Second, Connecticut wholesalers who import drugs from Canada must, among a host of requirements, be able to declare that an imported drug meets all US Food and Drug Administration standards for safety and efficacy. United. and wrong mark and tampering.

Liability, cost issues

In addition, imported Canadian drugs would have to meet US “track and trace” requirements.

These conditions raise liability and cost issues and discourage participation in the import program.

That all actors in the supply chain are willing and able to guarantee purity, dosage and potency is a bridge too far.

That all players in the supply chain from Canada through Connecticut would be willing and able to guarantee purity, dosage, potency, labeling accuracy, non-tampering, etc. not “Canadian” — is a bridge too far.

Finally, the bill does not allow the importation of the most expensive drugs – biologics and other infused and injected drugs (many, if not most, of the most effective oncology and autoimmune treatments fall into these categories) .

Ignore history

The price cap provisions in SB 13 ignore the long history of government-imposed price controls.

There are no academic, private sector, or government-sponsored studies demonstrating the effectiveness of price controls.

All price controls have done is add to the misery of empty store shelves and metastasized inflation.

Whatever the product (flour, machinery, drugs), price controls lead to shortages, delays in the introduction of new products and incentivize high introductory prices.

Price controls didn’t work when Richard Nixon tried them, didn’t work in Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, and didn’t work in Venezuela or Zimbabwe.

When tried, all price controls increased the misery of empty store shelves and metastasized inflation.

Compliance Maze

The governor’s bill establishes a compliance maze.

Penalties for non-compliance with the price cap are set at 80% of the difference between the revenue from the sale of a medicine outside of the bill price caps minus the revenue that would have been earned under the law.

The bill gives the DRS strong powers to collect records, hold hearings and order disclosures.

The bill gives the Ministry of Tax Services strong powers to collect records, hold hearings and order disclosures.

It also prohibits manufacturers from withdrawing a drug from sale in Connecticut to avoid its price caps and, in any event, requires 180 days notice before a manufacturer can discontinue the sale of a drug in Connecticut. ‘State.

Undermines innovation

The fundamental flaw of the SB 13 is the way it undermines our greatest competitive advantage: innovation.

It takes $2.7 billion and about a decade to bring a safe and effective new cure or treatment to pharmacy shelves.

It takes $2.7 billion and about a decade to bring a safe and effective new cure or treatment to pharmacy shelves.

If biopharmaceutical innovators cannot recoup their huge investments, they will turn to other products where they can.

Do we want our biopharmaceutical industry to recalibrate its R&D machinery – which has produced cutting-edge COVID-19 vaccines and antiviral treatments in record time – to produce products not subject to price controls, like cough drops? and over-the-counter cosmeceuticals?

Reduced access

Medical innovation is also the solution, not the cause, of health care cost inflation.

As high as the prices of some drugs may seem, the drugs are much less expensive than the surgeries, hospitalizations and long-term care they replace.

Think of the cystic fibrosis patient freed from recurrent respiratory infections and ultimately from the need for a lung transplant. Or the Hepatitis C patient cured and freed from the need for a liver transplant.

SB 13 will not lower drug prices, but it will reduce access to lifesaving drugs and stifle innovation.

Or the millions freed from debilitating strokes and heart attacks thanks to blood pressure and cholesterol-lowering drugs.

SB 13 will not lower drug prices, but it will reduce access to lifesaving drugs, stifle innovation in the life sciences, and add more complexity and cost to the healthcare system.

It may have some political value but lacks genuine political value in reducing health care costs.


Paul Pescatello is executive director of AABC’s Bioscience Growth Council and president of We Work for Health Connecticut. Follow him on Twitter @CTBio.


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