The Senate fumbles its first stab at pharma profiteering, keeping the issue front and center in 2017
Endpoints News assesses the big biopharma R&D story this week in a special year-end sendoff. Chances are, this is also what we’ll be talking about in 2017. And it will certainly be front and center at the upcoming J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference.
The Senate offers a weak response to price gouging
The Senate this week highlighted just how little the biopharma industry needs to fear from lawmakers when it comes to controlling drug prices right now. Investigating four clear cases of price gouging on old products, two orchestrated by Martin Shkreli, the Senate polished off a mix of dusty regulatory incentives as their suggestion for reining in profiteering: “special” priority reviews when needed, vouchers to help reward a fast response, maybe a special reimportation pass to provide cheap competition, a mandate to move generics through the FDA faster. None of it would actually nip the whole thing in the bud. “It is possible that the business model pursued by the Valeants and Turings of the world was attractive in part because it was legal,” the report states, in a massive understatement. (Ya think?) Nothing the senators suggested would actually prevent the next Shkreli from doing exactly the same thing. If lawmakers are unwilling to tackle obvious price gouging, then what are the chances they can ever come to grips with the much bigger issue of systemic rip-offs, the annual price spikes that have kept Big Pharma looking healthy as their R&D efforts continue to underperform?
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