Monday, February 9, 2015

A sign that all those PhRMA dollars aren't doing much good

From an interesting interview of President Obama with Vox's Ezra Klein and Matthew Yglesias (both politically progressive, one should note), an interesting question and answer (emphasis mine):
Ezra Klein: 
When you talk about Medicare as a lever, Medicare tends to pay a lot less per service than private insurers by a margin. Before single-payer there's also this idea you hear occasionally of letting private insurers band together with Medicare, with Medicaid, to jointly negotiate prices. Do you think that's a good idea? 
Barack Obama 
You know, I think that moving in the direction where consumers and others can have more power in the marketplace, particularly when it comes to drugs, makes a lot of sense. Now, you'll hear from the drug companies that part of the reason other countries pay less for drugs is they don't innovate; we, essentially through our system, subsidize the innovation, and other countries are free riders. There's probably a little bit of truth to that, but when you look at the number of breakthrough drugs and the amount of money that drug companies now are putting into research and where they're putting it, a whole lot of it is actually in redesigning, modestly, existing drugs so they can renew patents and maintain higher prices and higher profits. That's not entirely true, but there's some of that. So there is a lot of savings that could be achieved while still making sure that our drug industry is the best in the world, and will still be making a healthy profit.
I think it's a sign of insufficient influence on politicians that a former senator from Illinois (home of AbbVie) is quoting these not-particularly-friendly-to-pharma talking points, especially the classic "me-too-to-extend patents" thing. (Which, to be sure, there was a lot of that going on in 2003 or so.)

When I look at 2014's NDAs, I sure see a lot of innovation and not a lot of me-too-ism. Oh, well, can't win them all. (Sins of the fathers and all of that, too.)


  1. I'm impressed our president knows a little bit of what's going on in Big Pharma. But Big Pharma doesn't have to worry: if they can buy Obama and Hillary Clinton (who are supposidly liberal humanists looking out for the common man) such that they will not revoke the ridiculously burdensome perscription benefit program of Medicare, PhRMA can buy any politician. This country is toast in the end, thanks to the greed of special interests like PhRMA. Enjoy the Decline!

  2. You should check out John Oliver's piece on Pharma advertising, it's definitely worth the 17 minute watch.

  3. "That's not entirely true, but there's some of that."
    Isn't that politician for "I'm talking out my @$$, and I've equivocated enough that you'll never pin me down on it"?