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Foreign Reference Pricing Schemes Threaten Patient Health and America's Leadership in Medical Innovation

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The Competitive Enterprise Institute Convened International Policy Experts and Patient Voices for Unique Perspectives on the Real Cost of Foreign Reference Pricing Proposals

International policy experts and patients gathered today in Washington, D.C. to discuss the potential impact of foreign reference pricing schemes, which have been proposed by the Trump Administration in their International Reference Pricing, or “IPI”, and Congressional leaders in H.R. 3. Hosted by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), this discussion highlighted the real threats to patients’ health, innovation, and American jobs under the proposals. Speakers included health policy experts from the U.S., Austria, Germany, and Australia and patient advocates from Canada, Poland and the U.S.

The foreign reference pricing policies, as proposed, would index certain prescription drug prices in the United States to the prices of those drugs in countries around the world, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. The speakers provided important perspectives on the proposals based on their real-world experience in a number of the reference countries. The policy experts on the panel noted that, if implemented, foreign reference pricing could have a devastating effect on America’s leadership in medical innovation. They also expressed concern that the high-quality jobs the industry is known for could be lost.

“Without question, something needs to be done about the cost of prescription drugs and healthcare in general in the U.S.,” said Patrick Hedger, Research Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “However, looking to countries with nationalized healthcare systems is not the answer. Patients in those countries face their own grim costs, such as the lack of new, lifesaving treatments.”

A recent report showed that, of the 290 new medicines launched between 2011 and 2018, 89 percent were available in the U.S. The next highest availability rate in one of the proposed reference countries was Germany at a mere 62 percent.

Patients from the proposed reference countries noted there would be a real impact on patients’ ability to access innovative treatments for serious diseases. John Adams, Chair, Best Medicines Coalition and CEO, Canadian PKU and Allied Disorders added, “patients in Canada and many other countries are deprived the opportunity to be treated with the most advanced medicines because of our healthcare system. This is especially so when science can move a disease from untreatable to treatable or, in this new era, to curable. While the U.S. clearly needs new solutions that will help patients afford their medications, it is past the time when patients subsidize healthcare by suffering and dying when new therapies are available.”

“The U.S. healthcare system, despite its flaws, is remarkable for its ability to generate astonishing medical advances and put those advances to work for patients,” said Barbara Kolm, Director and Founder, Austrian Economics Center. “There’s no question a foreign reference pricing policy for prescription drugs would significantly impact the private investments that drive the lion’s share of research and development in this field. In the end, no one would win.”

The event was a first-of-its-kind gathering of international stakeholders on the foreign reference pricing proposals. The discussion underscored the potential harms that could be caused by such policies and the need for market-based solutions that prioritize patient health and medical advancement.

The full list of speakers included:

  • Kent Lassman, President & CEO, CEI
  • Patrick Hedger, Research Fellow, CEI
  • Barbara Kolm, Director and Founder, Austrian Economic Center
  • Wolfgang Müller, Executive Director, Institute for Economic Freedom (Germany)
  • Tim Andrews, Executive Director, Taxpayers Protection Alliance and Founder, Australian Taxpayers Protection Alliance
  • Andrew Spiegel, Founder and Executive Director, Global Colon Cancer Association
  • Jolanta Bilinska, Director of Development and Social Communication at City Medical Centre dr. K. Jonscher in Lodz, Poland and Founder, World Patients Alliance
  • John Adams, Chair, Best Medicines Coalition and CEO, Canadian PKU and Allied Disorders

About the Competitive Enterprise Institute

The Competitive Enterprise Institute is a non-profit public policy organization dedicated to advancing the principles of limited government, free enterprise, and individual liberty. CEI's mission is to promote both freedom and fairness by making good policy good politics. We make the uncompromising case for economic freedom because we believe it is essential for entrepreneurship, innovation, and prosperity to flourish.