Pharmaceutical Execs Fiercely Debate About Whether Lack of Innovation Causes Exorbitant Price Hikes

The brouhaha generated by Turing Pharmaceuticals and Valeant Pharmaceuticals this year because they jacked up some older medicines they’d purchased to head-line grabbing heights may have provided cover for the rest of the industry, according to Leonard Schleifer, MD, the head of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.

Schleifer threw this grenade while sitting on a panel at the Forbes Healthcare Summit last Thursday that focused on how to fix the industry’s battered reputation. Some other members of the panel were not pleased and did not hesitate to say so.

“It’s ridiculous,” Pharmalot reports Schleifer saying. “I hate us also when I see all this stuff. As an industry, we have to innovate and innovate. We all have a great story to tell, but it’s not a sustainable business model to have double digit price increases twice a year.”

Other panel members were irked. They included John Milligan of Gilead Sciences, David Ricks who will soon take over the reins at Eli Lilly, Jim Robinson of Astellas America, and Ian Read the CEO of Pfizer.

Read took the offensive, arguing that the cost of medicine has not changed in two decades as a percentage of total health care spending.

 “I totally disagree. This is a red herring.”

Schleifer countered: “You’re not entitled to a fraction of the GDP [gross domestic product]. It doesn’t work that way,” Pharmalot reports.

Read was hearing none of it. “I think we have to stop apologizing for great products that we produce… The question is not prices, but the question is affordability.” He cited the lack of a comprehensive health insurance.

Source: Pharmalot