BIO weighs in on pricing debate
- The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), an industry organization, has put its money where its mouth is with a mid-seven figure online and television ad campaign that highlights the power of innovation to save and improve lives and reduce healthcare spending.
- The ads are in response to the pricing debate that has reached a crescendo over the last year as more companies in the industry are called in front of Congress to justify egregious price hikes on already-marketed drugs.
- The industry has been slow to respond to public outcry about drug pricing and has often shifted the blame to insurers and pharmacy benefit managers. Executives that have touted the high cost of innovation have not been received kindly by the public.
A rapid improvement in the science behind drug making has led to rapidly increasing prices. But this has led to a greater burden on the healthcare system. According to the European Commission, between 70% and 80% of healthcare budgets are spent on chronic conditions, a figure that is reflected in the healthcare spend around the developed world.
The industry has faced the challenge of justifying the price tag of innovation to people who are seeing their copay costs rising, particularly in light of the high list price of drugs such as Gilead’s curative hepatitis C therapy Solvadi (sofosbuvir). While the drug is a cure for hepatitis C for most patients and saves on healthcare costs in the longer-term by avoiding the eventual need for liver transplant, it has an upfront and eye watering price tag of $84,000 for a 12-week treatment.
In its new campaign, Innovation Saves, BIO aims to explain the important role that innovation plays in reducing healthcare costs as well as saving lives, by highlighting real-life stories—shifting the focus away from cold, hard numbers.
BIO claims that innovation has contributed to $173 billion in savings in cancer costs and societal benefit as a result of a 22% reduction in cancer death rates since 1991. The industry group contends that an additional dollar spent for meds for an adherent patient with a chronic disease like congestive heart failure, diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol can result in dramatic savings in other healthcare costs.
“The cheapest way to treat a disease is to cure it,” said BIO President & CEO Jim Greenwood. “We all know people whose lives were changed or saved thanks to biopharmaceutical innovation, but what many don’t know is the impact these breakthroughs have on society.”
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