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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