The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America is telling state insurance regulators that U.S. drug spending is stable, that drugs provide a high level of value, and that big, quick advances in drug research are just about the country’s only hope of dealing with the cost of aging-related illness.
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Robert Zirkelbach, a PhRMA executive who in 2014 moved to the Washington-based trade group from another Washington-based trade group, America’s Health Insurance Plans, makes those points in a new slidedeck. Zirkelbach prepared the slidedeck for a panel discussion about drug prices set to take place Sunday in Miami Beach, Florida, at the fall meeting of the Kansas City-based National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
Zirkelbach may face a tough crowd in Miami Beach.
Both Republican and Democratic presidential contenders have been blasting PhRMA’s members. President-elect Donald Trump says U.S. drug makers should face more competition from non-U.S. makers. Congress has called witnesses from PhRMA to Capitol Hill for hearings on matters such as the high price of the newest anti-cholesterol drugs and the skyrocketing cost of the EpiPen devices used to protect people from severe, airway-constricting allergic reactions.
Zirkelbach says in his slidedeck that one problem is that the list prices that show up in news stories are different from what insurers really pay.
In 2015, for example, drug list prices increased an average of 12.4 percent, but the net, discounted prices insurers really paid increased just 2.8 percent, Zirkelbach says.
U.S. drug inventers can get 20 years of patent protection for new drugs. But, in the real world, Zirkelbach says, a brand-name drug usually faces competition from another brand-name drug within an average of 2.3 years.