Pharma in Interesting Times

Posted by Ed Schoonveld on Tue, Jan 08, 2019

“May you live in interesting times” is an intriguing Chinese expression that’s seemingly a blessing, but it’s really a curse. The pharmaceutical industry is facing a very tough year as an erratic U.S. president and a public that’s frustrated about drug prices provide motivation for bad solutions. It’s interesting that the Health and Human Services Secretary from the industry, Alex Azar, is now seeking to initiate price controls, albeit as a five year “experiment” rather than properly vetted legislation. Equally interesting is that the public frustration was mainly triggered by a combination of insurance funding concerns for a Hepatitis C cure and exotic price increases for off-patent drugs. This is not to say that the industry goes without blame. Pharma is better known for its lobbying power and erectile dysfunction ads than for its public communications. The pharma business model can’t easily be explained in 140 characters, but we certainly need to try a lot harder.


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European Drug Pricing Alliances: Force or Farce?

Posted by Ed Schoonveld on Thu, Mar 01, 2018

Affordability of health care for an aging population, the emergence of innovative drugs with promising impact on patient lives and the continuing concerns over prescription drug costs have resulted in a deluge of political attention to drug pricing around the world. Immediately following the launch of Gilead’s Sovaldi, European governments declared an intent to more intensely collaborate on drug price negotiations. The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg (later joined by Austria) created an alliance to jointly negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry. Today, the landscape has evolved further. What are the implications of pricing alliances for pharma companies? Will this evolve to one European price negotiation? Or will it disintegrate as countries fail to agree on common standards? Let’s analyze.


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