Saturday, January 17, 2009

BusinessWeek -- on Pharma's New Drill. . . .

Just as I have long, and repeatedly opined -- it seems BusinessWeek now agrees -- that the Bush 43 era (late-2003) ban on direct government pricing negotiations will end in 2009, under President Obama. Go read it all, but here is the most salient bit, for Schering-Plough:



Republican authors of the 2003 Medicare drug plan barred the government from negotiating discounts. Obama and congressional Democrats will overturn the ban, reducing prices paid for drugs. All major pharma players may be affected. . . .

Buckle-up for large price concessions on Vytorin/Zetia -- and a host of your other branded compounds -- Mr. Hassan. Private insurers will certainly seek so-called "most favored nations" pricing clauses, after the government gets tough on pricing. And they ought to. That will mean that insurers will be guaranteed no less-favorable pricing than the federal government is able to negotiate.

As an editorial aside, it seems odd -- ironic, even -- that pharma generally, and Schering CEO Hassan particularly, will endlessly repeat the old chestnut about the "death of US pharma innovation-leadership" -- being caused by government intervention in the "free market" for drug sales, and advertising.

'Tis ironic then, that out of the other side of their mouths, they liken letting the government freely-negotiate open-market pricing on drugs to "price extortion" -- and complain it is somehow inherently unfair.

Really -- which is it, boys? Are you for free markets, or ag'in 'em? Is the government (FDA) "killing pharma" with excessive intervention, or is the government's "drug prices-support program" something you must have?

You've benefitted-mightily from government-price-protections, and now, you'll cry foul when they are certain to be repealed?


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