Ford: Government-mandated drug price-setting bad for patients and Texas

A guest column penned by Victoria Ford, president and CEO of the Texas Healthcare and Bioscience Institute.

In boxing, it’s called the old one-two punch. In football, it’s piling on. In basketball, back-to-back, in-your-face dunks. That’s what Washington is trying to do to patients who need new drugs to help them fight cancers, neurological illnesses, and rare and infectious diseases.

Texas leaders need to step up and stop it.

Let me explain. First, we have a huge law Congress passed last year called the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). That law took some very good and important steps to lower out-of-pocket costs in Medicare Part D. But it also gave the government the power to set prices for some drugs prescribed to patients on Medicare. Because of that, research has found, as many as 139 fewer new drugs will reach the market over the next 10 years.

And now we have the White House and U.S. Senate proposing to speed up the coercive price setting calendar. This would give new medicines far less time to recoup the costs of research and development. An estimated 237 new drugs would be put on the shelf over the next decade if the White House and Senate plan comes to pass.

This double whammy would be devastating to Texas patients who are waiting desperately for these new medications.

Texas’ high-tech economy is also at risk.

Biotechnology is a rapidly growing industry here. We have important research centers in the Houston Medical Center, the San Antonio biotech hub, and universities across the state. Speeding up government-mandated price setting could cost as many as 54,000 jobs in Texas over 10 years.

For example, there’s a painful type of blood cancer called myelofibrosis. It affects about 18,000 people in America. Only one drug is currently approved to fight this cancer, and myelofibrosis patients need more innovative therapies.

The White House/Senate plan threatens work in the Lone Star State that could help. Investments of $294 million for myelofibrosis research would be lost here in Texas.

We can’t let that happen. We can’t let that happen to myelofibrosis patients desperately waiting for new cures. We can’t let it happen to patients with other cancers, with heart disease, with chronic pain or lupus or Ebola or so many more serious medical problems.

And we can’t let that happen to an important sector of the Texas economy.

A newly filed lawsuit might stop the government-mandated price setting in the IRA. That would be good. But that’s not enough.

We urge Texans in Congress to take a close look at these frightening new studies. We urge our elected leaders to see what those studies mean for Texas patients and Texas jobs. And we urge them to reject these proposals for government-mandated drug prices.

Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by Victoria Ford, president and CEO of the Texas Healthcare and Bioscience Institute. The column appears in The Rio Grande Guardian International News Service with the permission of the author.

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