Mar 10, 2023

Event Highlights Importance of Holding Big Pharma Accountable to Boost Competition and Lower Drug Prices

In case you missed it, on Thursday, The Hill hosted a virtual event, “Prescription for Change: Improving Competition to Lower Drug Prices,” moderated by Bob Cusak, Editor in Chief of The Hill.

The event included an interview with U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) as well as a panel discussion with Lauren Aronson, Executive Director, The Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing; Alex Brill, Founder and CEO, Matrix Global Advisors and Priti Krishtel, Co-Founder & Co-Executive Director, I-MAK.

Each speaker highlighted the importance of cracking down on Big Pharma’s egregious abuse of the patent system to increase competition to lower prescription drug prices for patients.

Here is what the panelists had to say:

Senator Tina Smith (D-MN): “One thing that happens is you have basically the big-name brand drug companies gaming the system. They have patent protections, and they game the system in order to protect those patents and that allows them to protect their capacity to charge Americans many, many, many, times higher prices than they get other places in the world. That’s something we ought to go after and fix and there’s bipartisan support for that.”

Lauren Aronson, Executive Director, The Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing: “With all of these rising drug prices, families are forced to choose between groceries… paying for childcare, education… it has a real impact… Congress has done a lot here to move the ball forward, and so has the administration… but obviously more needs to be done.”

“…Patent thicketing or a patent ‘fortress’ is a way for brand name manufacturers to protect their market share, and it really comes as a massive detriment to consumers… patients paid over $5 billion more than they needed to out-of-pocket just because of things like patent abuse.”

Priti Krishtel, Co-Founder & Co-Executive Director, I-MAK: “A patent is supposed to be a time-limited monopoly, where if a company invents a drug and they file for a patent, they get 20 years of exclusivity. But unfortunately what we’ve been seeing lately is that companies are filing for dozens or even hundreds of patents to extend their monopoly period in order to keep their revenues, and that’s blocking competition from the market.”

“Seven out of 10 of America’s top-selling drugs are due to go off patent this decade. Five of those are biologics and if you look at those top-selling drugs… Europeans are getting these drugs more affordably, years earlier. And I think we have to ask the question of why… a lot of tactics that we allow here in the marketplace, that ultimately are hurting Americans.”

Alex Brill, Founder and CEO, Matrix Global Advisors: “Biologic drugs are generally the most expensive drugs that we have. They can be incredibly expensive, in part because they’re very hard to develop, in part because the manufacturers have the monopolies and they’re demanding high prices. When we create a competitive environment for a biosimilar, then we get the natural, market-based competition forces and what we see is prices fall. Prices fall not only for the biosimilar who comes into the market and sets their price lower than the monopolist, but also the monopolists want to stay in the market themselves, and they’re forced to bring down prices.”

“We need to protect the patent system, I would say. But we need to think about the abuses, about the unintended consequences and those strategies that are being deployed that are hindering competition and thereby limiting a really important public benefit, the benefits that accrue from competition, the benefits that accrue from multiple generics entering the market and driving prices way down, the benefits that accrue from multiple biosimilars entering the market.”

Watch the full The Hill panel HERE.

Read more on the overwhelmingly bipartisan support for solutions to crack down on Big Pharma’s patent abuse HERE.

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