As debate over drug pricing proposals rolls on in Washington, White House advisers have concluded House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's aggressive pricing plan would result in 100 fewer new drugs over a decade, lowering Americans' expected lifespan along the way.
Unveiled this fall, Pelosi's plan calls for Medicare price negotiations, an international pricing index, potential fines for drugmakers who won't negotiate and more. President Donald Trump originally tweeted that it was “great to see” the plan, but more recently, the White House has backed away from the proposal and instead supported a bipartisan effort in the Senate.
Now, the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers has rolled out unfavorable findings on Pelosi’s proposal. The bill could lead to 100 fewer drug launches over the next decade, it says, representing about one-third of the total rollouts expected over that span. By reducing access to new drugs, the bill would lower average life expectancy in the U.S. by four months, according to CEA.
The bill would lower drug prices, “but the threat it poses to continued medical innovation will harm American patients in ways that far outweigh any benefits," the CEA said in a blog post.
In a statement to CNBC, a spokesman for Pelosi said the White House can't be counted on to provide “accurate numbers or honest analysis.”
“President Trump’s CEA has written a love letter to Big Pharma and letting out-of-control drug prices continue just the way they are,” the spokesman told the publication.
The CEA’s analysis of fewer new drugs resulting from Pelosi’s plan far surpasses the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate. In October, the CBO said the plan would save Medicare $345 billion between 2023 and 2029 but result in eight to 15 fewer new meds out of a group of 300. The New York Times editorial board has said that’s a worthwhile tradeoff, but the pharma industry has pushed back hard against the proposal.
Meanwhile, the Senate bill calls for changes to Medicare Part D and Part B and more transparency for pharma middlemen. Bernstein analyst Ronny Gal recently wrote that the Senate proposal would have a “negligible” effect on pharma operations, while the Pelosi plan would represent a “nuclear winter" for the industry.
All of the debate comes ahead of next year's elections, and drug pricing promises to be a hot topic on the campaign trail. Gal wrote that in recent months, his team "became convinced that the U.S. will gradually iterate toward more control of drug costs." What kind of proposal lawmakers and the administration will land on, though, remains an unknown.