Pharma execs dismiss protests over drug pricing, focus on deal-making at JPM16
- Pharma execs and conference attendees at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference have been dismissive of protesters demonstrating against increasing prescription drug costs, according to a report from Stat.
- The chairman of the industry group BIO, Ron Cohen, called the public criticism of drug companies an "abomination," and "a perversion of reality."
- Much of the focus fell on Gilead, which markets the hepatitis C drugs, Sovaldi and Harvoni. The two drugs are both curative treatments and list for prices ranging from $84,000 to $94,500.
Consumers, physicians and state healthcare systems face rapidly rising drug prices, such as for the new anti-cholesterol drugs which cost $14,000 per year, or for $10,000-a-month cancer drugs. While many new treatments offer significant health benefits in stopping disease progression, the list prices engender anger and protests of profiteering.
On the other side, drug companies argue these new treatments come at the cost of billions of dollars in research. The new drugs have advanced the standard of care for acute and chronic diseases. Furthermore, pharma companies and industry groups often point out that the end-user doesn't always pay the full list price, due to discounts and rebates along the distribution chain.
The debate took a sharply confrontational turn as protesters marched in San Francisco while biopharma executives gathered in high-level meetings and presentations. Instead of being intimidated, some of those execs present at JPM dismissed protesters' views as misrepresentative. However, the drug pricing issue has weighed on the usual enthusiasm as the industry turns to the new year.