PhRMA, the lobbyist organization for pharmaceutical manufacturers, has stated that concepts like price controls and price regulation could impair innovation. Medicare for All would include a provision of the government negotiating prices with manufacturers, similar to what is seen in other nations. Pharmaceutical manufacturers would have to come to the table due to the size of the U.S. market, but would they take the same risks in development?
The last few years have seen the introduction of immunotherapy in cancer, CAR T agents, and the burgeoning pipeline of gene therapies. One could reasonably question if manufacturers would pursue risky endeavors if the largest and most profitable market in the world suddenly became far less profitable. The result would be eternal waiting when research programs were discontinued or never started at all.
If Medicare for All is to have a real evaluation, the details of how such a bill would impact a person’s access to care and innovation need to be provided so consumers can make informed decisions. Healthcare bills that are all flash but no substance and written for the purpose of campaigning rather than policy making are not helpful. Americans need to understand how a change like Medicare for All would affect their healthcare and the healthcare of their families. Would patients have access to the same drugs they do now? Would access be delayed? Would drugs not be developed at all?
Jeremy Schafer, PharmD, MBA, is SVP, director Precision for Value.