The ongoing furor over the price of prescription pharmaceuticals has become so intense that even an august, establishment group like the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) cannot help but weigh in. Its report, “Making Medicines Affordable: A National Imperative,” released Thursday, is encouraging, as it is from an eminent group long on scientists and short on politicos, hinting at a rare, nonpartisan objectivity befitting the Academies.
The report is a valuable addition to the public debate. The 17-person panel that wrote it reached consensus on many, though not all, of its recommendations. But if there is a culprit lurking beneath the surface of these many policy recommendations, it is the biopharmaceutical industry. The report includes calls to demand more financial transparency from drug manufacturers as if they were utilities, to outlaw so-called “pay for delay” patent settlements, and to limit the benefits of the Orphan Drug Act.