Debating the fate of innovation

Contention over pricing bill H.R. 3 exposes the fault lines in the drug pricing debate

No one believes that H.R. 3, the Democratic House leadership’s drug pricing bill, will be enacted into law, but that hasn’t stopped it from precipitating frenzied debates. The bill has become a strawman for advocates and opponents of government-imposed price controls, a testbed for arguments that will be presented to voters next November.

The mechanics of how the Lower Drug Costs Now Act would set drug prices are less important than the competing arguments about the effects of price controls on innovation, access and public health.

H.R. 3 has become a vehicle for debating whether the U.S. government should control drug prices, and the effects price controls would have on the industry and its ability to develop therapies for currently intractable diseases.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her colleagues contend that drug companies are ripping off the American people so much that slashing prices will have a minimal impact on the trajectory of innovation.

Supporters of H.R. 3 say there’s plenty of fat to cut at pharma companies before R&D budgets are lacerated. In any case, they contend, the diminution in drug development

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