Jan 1, 2024

Big Pharma Discredited Its Own Bogus Rhetoric on Research and Development in 2023

With each new year comes a time-honored tradition for Big Pharma: Hiking prices on hundreds of brand name prescription drugs in the first two weeks of January.

As Big Pharma’s next round of January price hikes approach, we can take a look back at a year of bad behavior for the pharmaceutical industry and be reminded why policymakers must hold brand name drug companies accountable to lower drug prices.

In our first installment of our year-end series, we reviewed Big Pharma’s egregious pricing practices in 2023, including continuing to hike prices faster than the rate of inflation, bringing new drugs to market with skyrocketing launch prices, and colluding with each other to raise vaccine prices.

In the second installment of our series, we looked at Big Pharma’s massive spending opposing drug pricing solutions, pushing a blame game designed to boost brand name drug companies’ bottom line and evade responsibility for high prices and staggering investments in direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising pushing high-priced brand name products.

In the third installment, we explored new data from 2023 on the staggering cost of Big Pharma’s anti-competitive abuse of the U.S. patent system.

And in the fourth installment, we reviewed how Big Pharma was exposed for avoiding paying U.S. taxes and for utilizing kickback schemes to boost profits in 2023.

In our last installment of this series (before Big Pharma starts hiking prices anew in 2024), we’ll recap how the pharmaceutical industry debunked its own rhetoric on innovation in 2023:


Number of Cancer Drugs in Development Climbs Despite Pharma Rhetoric Claiming Otherwise

Oops. In 2023, Big Pharma accidentally helped debunk some of the myths perpetuated by the industry about the impact of drug pricing solutions on the innovation pipeline. While the pharmaceutical industry continues to falsely argue that legislation designed to lower prescription drug prices by holding them accountable will undermine innovation, it simultaneously continues to trumpet to investors and stakeholders a robust and growing pipeline of new medicines under development.

In June, The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) distributed a press release on an industry-commissioned analysis claiming that drug pricing provisions passed by Congress, and signed into law by the president, last year would undermine the ability of drug makers to develop cancer medicines.

However, in November, PhRMA released a report stating that there are currently 1,600 cancer treatments and vaccines in development. The new report shows there are now 300 more cancer medicines in development after the passage of that law than the industry reported were in development (1,300) in December 2020, before the law was passed.

Pharma Trips Over Its Own Innovation Rhetoric

During a December panel discussion hosted by The Hill, PhRMA President Stephen J. Ubl reiterated Big Pharma’s oft-repeated hyperbolic rhetoric about the threat to innovation, saying, “We’re already seeing a flight of those research projects being cancelled within our R&D pipeline. So, this is a really acute problem that’s going to really impact the fabric of incremental innovation.”

However, just the same week, two Big Pharma companies eager to generate buzz with investors and stakeholders, were touting their innovation pipelines.

In an exclusive interview with STAT News, Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson and the company’s head of research and development (R&D) Houman Ashrafian highlighted 12 new drugs the company is developing that they believe, “could generate annual sales of $2 billion or more.” Both executives also emphasized that three of those new medicines, “could eventually generate more than $5 billion in annual sales.” While the drugs Hudson and Ashrafian highlighted were for a range of conditions, Hudson hinted that Sanofi has even more drugs coming down the pipeline.

And while Sanofi was boasting about having 12 new potential blockbusters, Johnson and Johnson’s Executive Vice President of Innovative Medicine John Reed, in an exclusive interview with Endpoints News, also highlighted how that Big Pharma giant is, “promising investors 20 new drugs and 50 expanded products, including 10 with peak sales of $5 billion or more.”

As policymakers return to Washington in 2024, they should take note of the pharmaceutical industry’s continued egregious pricing practices, reject Big Pharma’s bogus rhetoric attempting to evade responsibility and shift blame for high prices and advance bipartisan, market-based solutions to hold Big Pharma accountable.

Learn more about market-based solutions to hold Big Pharma accountable and lower prescription drug prices HERE.

Read our first blog in this series on Big Pharma’s egregious price hikes and increasing launch prices HERE.

Read our second blog in this series on Big Pharma’s massive spending on direct-to-consumer advertising and a bogus blame game in 2023 HERE.

Read our third blog in this series on the continued cost of Big Pharma’s patent abuse and anti-competitive tactics on patients and the U.S. healthcare system HERE.

Read our fourth blog in this series on how Big Pharma’s tax avoidance schemes and kickbacks to boost profits came under fire this past year HERE.

And stay tuned for the start of Big Pharma’s annual tradition of welcoming the new year with egregious price hikes on hundreds of brand name prescription drugs.