Men's Health

Potential Adverse Impacts of Poorly Designed Medication Pricing Policy

As our country
and the world continue to battle the COVID19 pandemic, the need for reliable,
safe, effective, and high-quality diagnostic tests and treatment medications becomes
more urgent every day. As does the need to maintain a safe and secure supply of
technology and raw materials. Our overreliance on non-US sources for critical medical
products and components has undeniably led to critical shortages since the
pandemic first reached our shores.

Clearly, Americans
must never again allow ourselves to be held hostage to geopolitical or offshore
commercial factors that limit our ability to quickly and effectively respond to
national health emergencies.

Men’s Health
Network (MHN) believes that one of the most critical factors in preventing shortages
of important medical products is to develop comprehensive legislation and
regulations to govern medical product pricing and reimbursement. MHN
understands the link between product costs and access and recognizes the need
for governments and private payers to manage those costs in a way that ensures access
to the best technologies.

Several of the medical
product pricing proposals we have reviewed rely on establishing an
International Pricing Index (IPI) that would set US prices of those products
based on the prices charged in about 14 other countries, many of which have
government-run health care and government-subsidized medical product industries.
It would obviously be foolish to set US prices of washing machines, airline
seats, or anything else based on pricing available in countries where those
industries are subsidized. It is just as foolish to use foreign pricing to
determine US pricing of medicine and medical products.

It’s also important
to note that that in many countries, including the UK and Germany, government-set
prices for medications have had disastrous effects, in particular, a marked
decrease in access to needed medications and breakthrough therapies.

We believe that
the IPI approach may underestimate the real value of medical products to
patients and the health care system. Unwise policy will not only restrict
access to advanced technologies but will also hamper the ability of—and incentive
to—medical product manufacturers to innovate and meet surge-supply demands such
as we are observing today in the current COVID pandemic.

Setting US
prices based on the IPI may also inadvertently add fuel to the growing problems
of counterfeit and grey-market medical products. The US is already being
flooded with counterfeit drugs and equipment, which, in addition to costing manufacturers
billions of dollars in revenue, much of which could be used to develop even
more potentially life-saving products, counterfeit drugs may not work as
expected, and, in some cases, may actually be deadly.

The proliferation
of counterfeit products has dramatically increased during the COVID19 pandemic
and is largely driven by irrational pricing and access policies. MHN opposes arbitrary,
non-free market approaches such as IPI to determine for US pricing for medical
products. We urge policymakers to instead rely on market forces to drive down
costs, thereby encouraging research and ensuring widespread patient access to
treatments.

As we enter the
final phase of the 2020 election cycle, it’s clear that one of the key issues
will be medical product pricing policy. Late last year saw several proposals for
widespread health reform, and new proposals are emerging all the time,
especially those that seek to drive down the costs of prescription medications.

As the leading
non-profit advocacy organization for the health of men, boys, and their
families, Men’s Health Network has been evaluating the merits of some of these
proposals.

We have established Five Key Principles for Medical Product Legislation that we believe will not only address the issue of product prices but will also strike a critical balance between the needs of patients, the importance of innovation, and ensuring a consistent supply chain for medical products.

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