We all watched the commercial at some point. The one with the little bee that tries to pollinate a flower but can’t because, as the voice of Antonio Banderas informs us, he’s congested. Luckily for the little bee, and the millions of Americans who suffer from allergies, there’s Nasonex.
But where did Nasonex come from? Besides the CVS or Walgreens down the street. It turns out this medicine comes from the researchers and scientists at Merck and it stands as tangible evidence of the groundbreaking work being done by the biopharmaceutical industry.
But Merck is just one of many the many member companies of PhRMA, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. The organization was formed in 1958 to represent biopharmaceutical research and discovery companies and works to advance domestic and international public policies that support the advancement of medical research.
Since 2000, more than 500 new medicines have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with 45 new approvals in 2015 alone, although this is still just a small fraction of all the drugs in the pipeline. In 2014, PhRMA member companies invested an estimated $51.2 billion to discover and develop new medicines. The biopharmaceutical pipeline has over 7,000 new medicines currently in development worldwide with approximately 3,500 compounds being studied currently in the U.S. – more than any other region in the world.
The impact of the industry is felt not only by patients, but by the economy as well. In the U.S. more than 810,000 people work in biopharmaceuticals and the industry directly and indirectly supports nearly 3.4 million jobs across the country.
Recently, PhRMA has been heavily involved in the drug-pricing debate. The biopharmaceutical industry invests approximately $2.6 billion to gain one new prescription drug approval, a process that can take over a decade to complete. It seems logical then that in order to counter the costs of the thousands of drugs that never receive approval, and the ones that do, a hefty price tag would accompany each new medicine. So why do some medicines cost hundreds more than others? And why are some people paying more than their peers for the same medicine? The answers lie within the health insurance industry.
The biopharmaceutical industry has done its part to invest in the research and development of new treatments with the ultimate goal of improving quality of life, but insurance policies often make it difficult for patients to access the medicines they have been prescribed, often leading to unnecessary spending on medical complications that could’ve have been avoided. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, every dollar spent on newer medicines actually reduces healthcare costs by $7.20.
While Martin Shkreli and his drug Daraprim steal the spotlight for this debate, his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals is actually a hedge fund with the facade of a pharmaceutical company. Traditional pharmaceutical companies are focused on research and development, to provide patients with greater access to treatment.
For more information about PhRMA and the work being done by their member companies, visit www.phrma.org
– Melanie Preve, Wayne Office
(source: Molineaux, Christopher P. “Here’s why the insurance industry needs to do its part to keep healthcare costs down: Christopher P. Molineaux.” PennLive.com. 2 Nov. 2015. Web.)