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What the U.S. Can Really Do to Bring Down the Costs of Biotech Drugs (Guest: Gregg Girvan)

September 6, 2022

Americans have a right to complain that some prescription drugs are unaffordable. But the answer is not to have the government (taxpayers) pick up more of the tab.

Americans have a right to complain that some prescription drugs are unaffordable. But the answer is not to have the government (taxpayers) pick up more of the tab. A better solution is to get costly regulatory obstacles out of the way.  Gregg Girvan, a scholar at The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity (FREOPP), says it is a myth that brand name drugs have to be excessively priced to guarantee future research and development.  He also says regulatory obstacles are standing in the way of making biosimilars, a cheaper alternative to biologic drugs, more available.  Europe outpaces the U.S. in allowing biosimilars to be more widely available.  All Americans should be pushing for reform before health care spending pushes out other spending even more than it does today.

Ninety percent of all prescription drugs sold are generic.  Generic drugs are replicas of small molecule drugs (the drugs commonly taken in tablet form) and are cheap and affordable.  They have been revolutionary in driving down drug spending.

Biologic or biotech drugs are the cutting-edge drugs that account for most drug spending and are used by a small percentage of consumers.  Yet, there is no to few cheaper alternatives to these drugs due to regulatory obstacles and “patent padding” that can and are giving drug makers monopoly markets for decades.

 In the interview, Gregg and AnneMarie discuss:

- Evidence that high drug prices don’t necessarily guarantee more research and development. 

- What are biologic drugs are and why are prices for so high?  Do they cost more to research and produce?

- Do biosimilars do the same thing as their biologic counterparts?

- State of biosimilar market in the U.S.

- How is the biosimilar market in Europe different and why?

- Biosimilar Council’s efforts to change the thinking of consumers, pharmacists

- Interchangeability/concerns with the pharmacies

- Why we ALL should be pushing for these reforms

Girvan and Avik Roy have produced a growing body of articles and papers here: https://freopp.org/

The Growing Power of Biotech Monopolies Threatens Affordable Care, Sept. 15, 2020: https://freopp.org/the-growing-power-of-biotech-monopolies-threatens-affordable-care-e75e36fa1529

The Fair Care Act of 2020:  Market Based Universal Coverage: https://freopp.org/the-fair-care-act-of-2020-market-based-universal-coverage-cc4caa4125ae

Drug Companies are Warning that Pricing Reform Spells Doom. (They’re wrong): https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/08/08/drug-companies-medicare-pricing-reform/

Push is on to Promote Cheaper Biosimilars: https://heartlanddailynews.com/2022/08/biosimilars/

Europe is Light Years Ahead in Biosimilar Adoption: https://heartlanddailynews.com/2022/09/biosimilar/

Article Tags
Health Care
Author
AnneMarie Schieber is a research fellow at The Heartland Institute and managing editor of Health Care News, Heartland's monthly newspaper for health care reform.
amschieber@heartland.org @HCPolicy