VOICES: Congress should address drug prices, but not at the expense of innovation

The promise of bioscience to treat and cure disease is immense, and Ohio is in the forefront of delivering creative biotechnology applications to give patients and their families new hope for good health and also reduce the total cost of healthcare across the system. Continued innovation in bioscience industry also offers exciting potential for creating jobs and growing business in Ohio.

However, legislation pending in Congress threatens to stifle innovation in the quest to treat rare diseases and cancer, upend the critical investments required for successful drug research and devastate Ohio’s growing bioscience industry. Before that is allowed to happen, members of Congress need to understand just how harmful it would be to enact some provisions in the drug pricing framework within the Build Back Better reconciliation bill.

BioOhio, the only statewide organization representing the bioscience industry, is dedicated to bringing medical innovations to patients to save and improve lives while creating jobs and growing business in Ohio. With nearly 300 members employing more than 100,000 Ohioans, BioOhio recognizes the value of investing in emerging science for the benefit of Ohioans and the state’s economy. With a unique perspective encompassing Ohio’s largest employers, emerging startups, universities and research institutions, students and individuals, BioOhio is well positioned to evaluate the impact of the drug pricing reforms in the Build Back Better Act and to sound the alarm on the damage it would inflict.

The Tax Foundation and others citing studies from the Congressional Budget Office estimates that by targeting high-cost drugs without regard to their cost-effectiveness, the drug pricing framework in the Build Back Better Act poses a 90% reduction in new medicines developed by small U.S. biotech companies by cutting their revenues in half. This results in disproportionate impact for treating diseases with limited or no alternative treatments available, including options for 70,000 Ohioans diagnosed annually with cancer.

It can cost up to $1 billion to create, test and win Food and Drug Administration approval for successful new drug therapies. Bioscience startups depend on investments from larger companies and venture capitalists to bring their innovative therapies to the patients who need them. Unfortunately, enactment of the Build Back Better Act’s drug pricing reforms would discourage critical investments in high-risk, high-reward therapies in oncology and rare and chronic diseases.

Ohio has invested millions of dollars in innovation districts in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus. Already, 88 companies have been certified by the FDA to manufacture pharmaceuticals in Ohio, attracting jobs and talent and creating opportunities to partner with the state’s world-renowned medical centers and universities to further develop Ohio’s bio-ecosystem. Revenue lost by enactment of price setting on selected drugs could devastate the bioscience sector and thwart prospects for Ohio innovation districts just as they are showing great potential.

Companies in the Dayton area whose work is threatened include:

  • Adare Pharma Solutions in Vandalia, a global technology-driven CDMO providing product development through commercial manufacturing expertise focused on oral dosage forms for the Pharmaceutical industry.
  • Alkermes in Wilmington, a fully-integrated global biopharmaceutical company focused on developing innovative medicines that aim to address unmet needs of people living with serious mental illness, addiction and cancer.
  • Soin Neuroscience in Dayton, a pharmaceutical company founded by Dr. Amol Soin, a pain management physician, is developing low dose naltrexone to treat complex regional pain syndrome and has received an orphan drug designation from the FDA.

These and other innovative bioscience leaders are doing the important hard work and research to find and deliver effective cures and treatments needed by Ohioans and others with rare diseases, chronic diseases, and cancers. Their ability to address significant unmet needs would be crippled by enactment of drug price setting in the Build Back Better reconciliation bill, and that is a high cost none of us wants to pay.

Eddie Pauline is President & CEO for BioOhio.

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