To the Editor:
It’s an oft repeated refrain — heard from the President’s State of the Union Address to the capitol in Hartford — the need to bring down the cost of prescription medication.
Frankly, I couldn’t agree more, but the problem comes in the short-sighted ways some of Connecticut’s elected leaders want to change what patients pay for their needed medications.
The current proposals will do little to truly help patients, ignore the most egregious money grabs in the supply chain, while at the same time taking aim at the biopharmaceutical industry, one that has a long history of success here in our state, and one that quite frankly saved us from the coronavirus pandemic.
S.B. No. 13—the Governor’s proposal to reduce the cost of prescription drugs is focused solely on the companies that research, discover and manufacture medications. For some reason, the insurers, the pharmacy benefit managers, hospitals, and others in the supply chain who actually are responsible for the increase in costs that patients face get a free pass.
A recent study showed that manufacturers are not who profit the most on prescription drug costs, instead it is these other players who are raking in billions of dollars due to a complicated web of rebates, formulary negotiations and pricing practices that are often cloaked in secrecy. Still, those industries are not being looked at for regulation or accountability.
Why is Connecticut taking this route? Why are our leaders risking the success of an industry that accounts for thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue?
The southeast corner of the state has the most to lose if the biotech industry no longer sees Connecticut as a good place to do business.
Employing thousands of Connecticut residents with projections to add more in coming years, biotech is a leading employer in this part of our state. And those numbers don’t account for the support jobs that are generated by the biotech companies—think the local deli, dry cleaner, car mechanics and other small businesses that biotech employees help support in our local communities.
This says nothing of the increase in real estate prices, tax revenue and availability that high paying research and development jobs bring to the region.
And with our easy access to biohub sites like Cambridge, as well as being a quick drive to New York, New Haven and New London make sense for biotech firms small and large to call home.
I’d hate to see an industry that I proudly worked in for decades be forced to make tough decisions about locating in Connecticut due to well-intended but poorly crafted legislation that won’t solve financial problems for patients but will continue to enrich greedy middlemen and potentially snuff out research and development that could be the next cure for a patient.
It’s time for Connecticut lawmakers to support the industry that brings progress and hope to patients and their families and stop legislation that would strike a blow to science and research.
LaMattina is former President, Pfizer Global Research and Development. He is the author of the upcoming book, Profits and Pharma: Balancing Innovation, Medicine and Drug Prices.