Manufacturers consistently rank rising health care costs as a primary business challenge according to the National Association of Manufacturers Outlook Surveys conducted each quarter. The manufacturing industry has a history of leading the business community in providing health benefits to employees—98 percent of NAM members provide health insurance to employees and they do so because it is the right thing to do for their workforce and their families.
New health care mandates will continue to challenge the ability of employers to provide self-funded health care innovations that help control costs. Since manufacturers have a proud tradition of providing health care to employees, manufacturers are eager to explore ways to reduce health care costs and strengthen ERISA – the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. The economies of scale that have come to define employer-sponsored coverage, create a vehicle through ERISA to design benefits that are flexible, innovative and efficient. However, this approach only works if health care innovation is encouraged and permitted. Employers can no longer be strangled by additional regulations or the burdens of 50 different ways to comply which is why ERISA plans and their sponsors work hard to contain costs. Manufacturers want our employees to thrive, be healthy and share in our success as manufacturers.
Oklahoma is now considering a new mandate that will impact how and where pharmacy benefit coverage is provided, potentially requiring an open-ended pharmacy network and mandated reimbursement requirements outside the scope of many pharmacy benefit plans that Oklahoma employers will have to cover.
HB 2632 and S 841 represent a wrong-headed approach. The NAM agrees with the State Chamber of Oklahoma and urges legislators to fully understand the cost impacts of yet another health care mandate thrust on employers and their employees.
Cutting-edge advancements in pharmaceutical medicine improves lives and reshapes the health care industry as we know it every day. Innovation fuels progress, and America’s biopharmaceutical manufacturers are leading the way toward developing solutions to the greatest health care challenges, as they always have. The results are clear: more new medicines are created in the United States than every other country in the world combined. Unfortunately, some states have pursued and continue to pursue legislation to address rising health care costs that would stifle innovation—neither improving care for patients nor reducing health care costs in the process.
Minnesota House File 1246 would threaten intellectual property rights by requiring manufacturers to disclose highly-sensitive proprietary information, creating unnecessarily burdensome requirements that are contrary to the free and competitive market that has allowed biopharmaceuticals to develop new life-saving treatments. Our country far outpaces others in the discovery of new cures because of our emphasis on innovation that is carried out through robust research and development and protected by vigorous intellectual property rights. Degrading those rights degrades the progress they make possible.
The legislation being considered in Minnesota will not lower prescription drug costs nor address the rising cost of health care. Manufacturers support solutions to address rising health care costs, but as the manufacturing sector accounts for more than three-quarters of all private sector R&D in the United States and receives more patents than any other industry, proposed solutions must not come at the cost of crippling the biopharmaceutical sector’s innovation.
As some states continue to consider various ways to address rising health care costs, Florida is the latest state to seek authorization from its legislature to import prescription drugs from Canada. As is the case with similar proposals in other states, this unproven drug importation proposal would risk eroding the public health standards U.S. prescription drugs are held to—and could expose Americans to lower quality drugs to the detriment of their health. To elected leaders, such a proposal may seem like a simple solution, but—however well intentioned—this opinion comes without a full understanding of the value of innovation led by pharmaceutical manufacturers in America and the required federal role in this proposal.
Florida’s HB 19 carries a false promise to lower drug prices by allowing the importation of prescription drugs from Canada. There is no question that skyrocketing health care costs are disrupting families and businesses around the country. However, allowing imported drugs from Canada is not a solution. Canada does not have the same standards or long-established mechanisms in place to protect patients as we do here in the United States. Furthermore, elected leaders should not ignore the bill’s need for federal approval and its needless risk to public health. To date, no Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has been willing to make a certification to permit drug importation from foreign countries due to concerns about public health—and rightly so.
Manufacturers support efforts to increase access to affordable medicine, but it cannot be at the expense of safety or quality. Canada does not make product safety guarantees to the U.S., so importation and re-importation could expose consumers to counterfeit and adulterated therapies. High prescription drug costs should be addressed—but not at the expense of eroding the reputation of quality drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration for marketing in the United States. Adequate drug consistency and quality cannot be assured with imported medicine—nor can the health and wellness of people seeking treatment through foreign prescription medicine that may be counterfeit or adulterated. The National Association of Manufacturers has long opposed the importation of prescription drugs, and we will continue advocating for patient safety to remain the driving factor in determining prescription drug laws. Americans count on national safeguards guaranteeing the quality of prescription drugs for their health and wellbeing. There cannot be doubt or uncertainty.
Tomorrow, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on the cost of medicine. No doubt, this is an issue that is impacting millions of Americans and it’s good that Congress is continuing its discussion of lowering health care costs. Manufacturers urge Congress to focus on solutions that are market-based and that recognize the unique global leadership role biopharmaceutical manufacturers in America play. Why? More new medicines are created in the United States than every other single country in the world—combined. America’s biopharmaceutical manufacturers have come up with cures for the uncurable, they’ve worked to eradicate entire diseases from the face of the planet, they’ve brought hope to millions and they continue to overcome nearly every impossibility placed before them. The fact that our country far outpaces every other country in the discovery of new cures is no coincidence. While the system we have can certainly use improvements—such as better aligned incentives that promote value to both patients and their employers who sponsor health insurance—Congress should take care not to do so at the expense of the development of the best-in-class treatments of tomorrow that can bring hope and healing to so many more who are suffering today.
In addition to leading the way on innovative new cures, biopharmaceutical manufacturers are also leaders in research and development (investing more in R&D than any other industry) and employment in the STEM fields. Jobs in this sector of manufacturing are extremely well-paying, with an average annual salary of $80,458.
Chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, asthma and others continue to increase health care costs. Medicines and new treatments are the way to stabilize these conditions so that people can remain healthy and productive. With this in mind, manufacturers look forward to tomorrow’s hearing and we look forward to working with policymakers on solutions on the cost of medicine that are market-based, pro-innovation, and reject the kind of socialist ideas that could destroy our country’s global leadership in developing the cures of tomorrow.
Letter from the Infrastructure Working Group encourages Republicans and Democrats to unite and pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill that includes six key priorities.
Clarifies how patent disputes can be resolved while maintaining the foundational principles and integrity of the Hatch-Waxman Act.