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This weekly column offers opinions on the latest pharmaceutical industry news.

Dear President Trump,

When you met with several pharma executives last week, you complained about “astronomical” drug prices and promised to cut regulations so medicines could be approved faster.

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  • Half baked is more than generous. If we look at the landscape there are Mount Everestian challenges.

    Most of actives used in the US are imported. They have to be produced in the US with the hope that their cost would be the same as the landed cost of imports. Questions we have to ask are:

    1. Do we have entrepreneurs who are willing to invest to produce the actives?
    2. Do we have the technologies and processes to off the imported cost of actives?
    3. Do we have or have invested in technologies that will lower the formulated drug costs?
    4. Do we have sufficient number of chemists and chemical engineers to create, man and manage active ingredient plants and are they ready to work in the next two to three years?
    5. Do we have the systems and competition in place for compete when it comes to drugs and do the patients have the choice and benefits of competition?

    Answer to the above five and additional questions are NO. Focus of the pharma companies generally has been to increase their revenue and profits. In the recent years these have come through price increases and orphan drugs that per disease has less than 100,000 patients. Companies have created new treatments that are marginally better but way more expensive than the existing drugs and that means unaffordable.

    With the above landscape how are you planning to make the drugs more affordable. Are you planning to eliminate the influence of the pharma companies on our legislatures to make things are more acceptable to the companies or to do things that are mutually beneficial to the patients and the pharma companies? So far things have been Pharma win and patient loss.

    Are you willing to isolate our country from 80% of the world? If you do not allow free trade then we do not have the right to tell companies in other countries not to respect our drug and for that matter any patents.

    Many things have to be thought through rather than saying things that are no achievable. Pharma companies have one motive win and win at all costs.

    Talk is cheap and free but walk is difficult. In addition, free things have no value. Cheers.

  • Well, so far Pres. Trump has ” shot from the hip ” on a lot of issues . Are we surprised ? We Stage IV Cancer Survivors and Caregivers applaud him for taking both the FDA and Big Pharma to task . Even if he’s doing it incoherently . His background is casinos, real estate and reality tv. We do not want a Big Govt. System like the UK and others around the world. They don’t ( can’t ) fund research and seem to depend on American ingenuity . They deny their citizens a chance at life that Americans get . My wife’s miracle cancer – clearing drug , Kadcyla ,( a product of US private sector research ingenuity ) is being denied to UK citizens by NICE as we speak . Thousands of UK citizens may die over the next year or so , if NICE ‘s control is allowed to stand.
    We Survivors got a taste of Big Govt. Control in Pres. Obama’s 1st term – an FDA that revoked, delayed, banned drugs that saved , prolonged lives – 2009 -2014, Avastin, Kadcyla, Iclisug, Lemtrada . Big Govt. seeking to regulate instead of saving lives . We also know that much of Big Pharma is focused more on making $$$ than saving lives . We want negotiation , adjustment – with our lives as the top priority .

    • Thanks, Ed Silverman, for the strenuous work of sorting through the complexities of both the problem and Trump’s “shoot from the hip” solution – or for at least trying to tease out his solution. Some of us do want a big government solution, of course, but in spite of our disgracefully low ranking in health indicators when compared to countries with some form of universal health care, this seems a distant goal. Survivors, and the rare disease community, certainly need to be heard, but they also need to be aware that they are at risk for exploitation and manipulation by the very people, the big pharmas of the world and their politicians, who are profiting from the public’s contribution to research even before profiting from grotesquely inflated prices. Huge sums of money in NIH funding go to support the basic research that lies behind specific drug development, the universities supporting this research crank in overheads of 50% – 65% on every research dollar, additional large sums underwrite the medical schools (infrastructure, grants, scholarships, student loans) – all of this is taxpayer, and Survivor, money and all of this before we even get to the cost of the specific drugs. Shooting from the hip may be emotionally satisfying, but it is not a solution to our problems.

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