Counterpoint: PhRMA scores a win for the industry in D.C.
Although it isn’t exactly certain how pharmaceutical companies will be affected by recent healthcare legislation, many in the industry fear the unexpected consequences, like the backlash on R&,D, an opinion that was voiced in a recent pharmaphorum article. However, since no one knows exactly how this will all play out, it would be wise to perhaps consider a more positive outlook.
A recent UPI article reported that PhRMA, the biggest pharmaceutical lobby in the United States, expressed approval for the bill, with some small exceptions. And the Baltimore Chronicle reports on what it calls “big pharma’s big win.” Analysts thus far point to not only increased profits for the industry, but increased patient access to drugs as well.
So what, exactly, counts for pharmaceutical industry’s triumphs in the passing of the bill? For one, the pharmaceutical lobby successfully bargained for blocking the possibility of Medicare price negotiations, at least for now. Another big win for the industry, a provision that has been put into effect immediately, is the 12 year exclusivity period of patent protection on biologics, only after which the FDA can approve development of generics. And, what’s more, PhRMA also effectively pushed for the continuance of the ban on the importation of foreign drugs. The fact that an estimated 32 million more Americans will have insurance coverage, a group that could not, for whatever reason, afford it beforehand, will mean a significant increase in new pharmaceutical consumers.
Although there has been a lot of political posturing and maneuvering among those comprising the massive pharmaceutical lobby (notably, PhRMA initially strove to defeat then First Lady Hillary Clinton’s health care reform proposal, but then jumped on the bandwagon this time around), the dramatic changes taking place in the very fabric of this country’s healthcare cannot be ignored by the industry. Simply put, it’s a classic case of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” And, in joining the effort to enable more healthcare coverage for all—aside from the possible adverse consequences—the pharmaceutical industry will receive a much-needed dose of positive public relations.
Of course, with the new healthcare bill, there will be tradeoffs between pharmaceutical companies and the federal government, and not everything will be a bed of roses. However, considering that the United States was the only developed country in the world that didn’t offer its citizenry some form of public healthcare option, the changes we are seeing now would have occurred sooner or later. Now, it’s time for the pharmaceutical companies to realign and reassess to meet new challenges presented by a changed system. Those in the industry should see the healthcare bill as a chance to reinvigorate its market strategies and rethink previously held assumptions.
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Is healthcare reform really that bad for pharma?