Drug-company executives are not content in simply being witnesses to the overhaul of United States healthcare. Drug companies promise not to have a repeat of their performance in the 1990’s, when they helped defeat President Bill Clinton’s reform efforts from the outside. Executives like Eli Lilly & Co’s CEO John Lechleiter promise an “open” process of pushing for reform. “This is not the 1990s, when the industry was playing defense, we’re playing offense. We’re at the table.” Drug-industry players promise not to use stare tactics in their effort to have their voice be heard, and have already outlined their different goals.
The first point made clear by Lechleiter and others like Astra Zeneca’s CEO David Brennan is that drugs are not are not a significant contributor to the exorbitant health care costs in the US. In other words, drugs are not the problem. “Prescription drugs account for just about 10 percent of health-care spending in the US; that has not changed in 40 years and right now that is going down,” Brennan argued on Wednesday to the Wall Street Journal. Mr. Brennan and other drug-executives claim that cutting back on drug prices is not the answer, rather allowing doctors to prescribe based on drugs’ quality rather than their cost will lead to better preventive care and lower costs.
Drug companies have also made the point on numerous occasions that a public plan would not be effective in the US. CEO of Pfizer Jeffrey Kindler argues: “a public plan would crowd out private insurers” and take the form of “price controls “that fail to reward companies for their expensive and risky investments in drug development.
Finally, drug companies have also maintained that recent price increases in drugs have been necessary. Prices on many drugs have been up by as much as 15% from last quarter, and many have argued that the companies are trying to collect as much money as possible before proposed health reform will drive prices down.
While drug prices are a constant concern for millions of Americans, these companies make a valid point that maybe it is not their prices and industry that needs major reform.