CEO of Pfizer www.pfizer.com Ian Read D.C., speaking at the National Press Club on March 23, 2017 in Washington D.C, acknowledged that patients today face and deal with co-pays and high deductibles. However, consumers really need to understand the issues and problems involving payment for prescription drugs from insurance.
As Read explained, “The costs to produce and bring safe effective drugs to market are out of the reach of most individual pockets. He said, “It is important when it comes to health that each individual should have insurance that covers diseases like cancer or rheumatoid arthritis without having to bear the majority of the expense which can include the high cost of prescriptions.”
He added, “One of the biggest problems is that benefit designs are constructed to avoid sick patients. For instance, previous to the Affordable Care Act, Pfizer had a product called Chantix, which helps people stop smoking.”
He told the attendees, “Insurance companies wouldn’t cover Chantix, since they don’t want smokers on their insurance rolls, as they are a bad risk. As a result, Pfizer had great difficulty getting Chantix in the insurance system.”
As to the cost of drugs, he said “What would really bring down prices of drugs is if the FDA would speed up approvals and we could get drugs to market in less than 15 years. Plus, if we had a regulatory system that encouraged innovation, we could bring lots more drugs to market which would increase competition and the end result would be lower prices.”
Read was asked “What is Pfizer doing to control the misuse and excessive prescription of its highly profitable opioids?
Read pointed out, “Pfizer produces opioids because they are an extremely important part of the healthcare system for people who need to deal with chronic pain. Pfizer has a product naloxone, which can rescue people from an overdose and is available at $11 for one treatment which is quite reasonable. Pfizer has also given a million dollars and a million doses of naloxone to the states ravaged by opioid addiction.”
Read summed up his thoughts on how to move medical care forward in the future. First we need to provide all patients with access to quality healthcare coverage that includes access to cost-effective medicines and comprehensive care for diseases like cancer.
Secondly, we need to have incentives for prevention-based healthcare that reward people for good health and provide financial incentives to enable providers to manage risk and encourage prevention.
Next, we need to base our solutions on competitive market principles and get the right incentives for the whole healthcare sector in the right place specifically for the pharmaceutical industry in terms of increasing public and private funding.
Lastly, we need to increase investments in manufacturing along with regulatory reform and favorable tax and trade policies that will accelerate the potential for scientific advancement and development and approval of life changing medicines while also eliminating the backlog of generics.