Sep 1, 2022

FREOPP President Explains Pharmaceutical Industry Arguments Are “Factually Wrong” and Highlights the Need for Additional, Market-Based Solutions to Increase Competition

In an interview on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal program this week, Avik Roy, president of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity (FREOPP), debunked Big Pharma’s bogus innovation rhetoric and highlighted the importance of market-based solutions to support greater competition from affordable alternatives.

During the interview, Washington Journal host Pedro Echevarria played an ad from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) claiming drug pricing solutions in the Inflation Reduction Act could mean fewer medicines in the coming years,” including for serious diseases like Alzheimer’s and breast cancer.

“I’d say almost every sentence of that ad is wrong,” Roy said in response. “The way the bill is designed is it’s really focused on drugs that have already been on the market for a very long time where the returns have already been generated… Take breast cancer and Alzheimer’s. Those are two great examples. Those are huge markets, the first drug company that develops a successful treatment for Alzheimer’s, that’s easily going to be a drug that generates $20 billion or more in sales. So more than enough to generate to pay for the R&D investment. And this bill does not affect that at all… the economic argument they’re making is wrong. Factually wrong.”

Roy further explained that the American people are rejecting Big Pharma’s tired and debunked arguments on innovation as millions of patients face financial uncertainty affording their medications.

“People are struggling to afford the prescription drugs,” Roy said. “It’s ridiculous. It’s immoral, frankly. And I think that the biotech industry needs to wake up and understand that it has a social responsibility to ensure the innovation is affordable, because if the only kinds of innovations you’re generating are ones that patients can’t afford, that’s not real innovation in the rest of the economy.”

“What do we think of as innovation?” Roy continued. “You think about your iPhone or your Android phone. It gets better and more powerful and less expensive every year. Your laptop gets better and more powerful and less expensive every year. Not so with prescription drugs. With prescription drugs. We say, well, it’s a 20-year-old drug, but we’re gonna charge 10 times more today than we did 20 years ago for exactly the same drug molecularly, it’s exactly the same, there’s literally nothing that’s changed about it. Just because we feel it’s our God given right to increase prices by 10 percent a year. I mean, that’s just not free market economics. And I think the biotech industry, the pharmaceutical industry, needs to understand that Americans are just not finding those arguments credible.”

Roy highlighted the importance of additional market-based solutions to crack down on Big Pharma’s egregious anti-competitive tactics and support greater competition from affordable alternatives.

“The biggest companies have often rigged the game against their smaller competitors,” Roy explained. “A lot of our work involves how to actually restore competition to markets where you have monopoly power, where you have a handful of players who basically set the game up so that they win, and no one else can compete with them.”

“If we want a fair system of fair competition,” Roy said, “we really need to think about the rules that we put in place that make it harder for those startups to succeed.

Watch Avik Roy’s full interview with C-SPAN’s Washington Journal HERE.

Read a recent op-ed from Avik Roy and Gregg Girvan debunking Big Pharma’s bogus innovation rhetoric in The Washington Post HERE.

Read more on why Big Pharma’s innovation claims don’t hold up to scrutiny HERE.

Read more on Big Pharma’s latest use of debunked arguments to oppose drug pricing solutions HERE.

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