American citizens help fund the basic science behind most drugs, and then we give corporations monopoly power to set the prices at whatever the market will bear. 50-60% of all new drugs are based on research funded by U.S. taxpayers and currently, we pay twice as much for most drugs as people in other wealthy nations.
Drug companies have a responsibility to:
- Acknowledge taxpayers' investment and explain how the price of a drug reflects that investment.
- Publicly commit that when a drug is approved in other countries, U.S. taxpayers will not be charged more than citizens of other wealthy nations given America's unique investment into the science driving drug discoveries.
- Explain how the price of an orphan drug for treating rare diseases will decline as the number of patients receiving the drug expands.
The bottom line: Novartis's new CAR-T drug, Kymriah, is an incredibly important one. But American taxpayers invested over $200 million in CAR-T's discovery. Based on several different data points, we believe the price for Kymriah is about $125,000-150,000 too high. That's disappointing. Drugs don't work if people can't afford them.
Other voices in the conversation:
- Greg Aune, pediatric oncologist, Greehey Children's Cancer Research Institute: Value isn't just about surviving cancer
- Usman Azam, president & CEO, Tmunity Therapeutics: How to evaluate breakthrough therapies
- Austin Frakt, health economist, Department of Veterans Affairs, Boston University and Harvard University: The public should have a say in what a drug is worth
- Paul Howard, senior fellow, Manhattan Institute: Price should be based on outcome