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Jill Wechsler is Pharm Exec's Washington Corespondent
More than 200 biopharma leaders acknowledge that out-of-pocket costs for individuals must be limited to sustain support for fiscal and patent policies key to advancing innovation.
Can a commitment to limit prices to ensure patient access to important new medicines regain public trust and confidence in the biopharmaceutical industry? That’s the hope of a large cadre of biotech company executives who recognize that recent scientific advances that promise to cure critical diseases must be linked to high integrity and corporate responsibility or face price controls and other policies that undermine support for continued discovery of new medicines.
In a “New Biotechnology & Pharmaceutical Industry Commitment to Patients and the Public” penned by six CEOs, more than 200 leaders from some 150 small and mid-size firms and research organizations acknowledge that out-of-pocket costs for individuals must be limited to sustain support for fiscal and patent policies key to advancing innovation. The group led by executives from Amicus, Nkarta, Ovid, Global Blood, GlycoMimetics and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals back collaboration with healthcare entities, including payers, hospitals, and distributors, in efforts to eliminate co-pays and deductibles for all patients.
Those signing the commitment letter also pledged to support ethical business practices and to invest “only in novel therapies that address unmet patient needs.” And they oppose companies and stakeholders who “abuse this commitment to patients and who abuse policies aimed at fairly rewarding innovation.” At the same time, the group supports the marketing of biosimilars and generic drugs after “legitimate patents and regulatory protections expire.”
By itself, the public letter offers few specifics for effective change in current industry practice. Even so, the list of supporters is notable for the absence of big pharma and biotech firms who did not sign on, ostensibly due to legal concerns about joining any industry initiative that could be construed as involving multi-company price-setting agreements. The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) voiced support for the principles expressed here by many of its members, but did not officially endorse the statement. And while manufacturers can face stiff penalties for actions even hinting at price-setting agreements, these commitments to ethical practices should avoid such consequences by emphasizing responsible actions by individual companies.