AMAC Action In The Media

The Affordable Care Act Pits Big Pharma Against Senior Citizens

I recently was a guest on the Willis Report on the Fox Business News channel to discuss some pharmaceutical companies’ efforts to protect their patents against generic competition.  The landscape in pharmaceutical research and development has changed greatly over the past 15 years.  The focus has narrowed to specific disease states, such as cancer, as opposed to addressing broader disease states like hypertension.  The medications that are emerging are part of a growing class called biologics.  They are very complex molecules and they work on the cellular level.  They are usually rapidly infused or injected in a physician’s office or hospital setting.  These medications are also extremely expensive to develop.

Congress embedded into the Affordable Care Act (ACA) the “Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (BPCIA”).  The BPCIA was designed to accelerate the introduction of biosimilars, which are drugs that have similar, but not identical, properties to the biologic original.  As with most elements of the ACA, this is another grand idea that lacks any detail on how to accomplish its intended task.  It is this lack of detail regarding the “interchangeability” of biosimilars, therapeutic naming issues, and patient and physician consent concerns that has forced Big Pharma into pre-emptive strike mode.  Drug companies are seeking patent protection over what they perceive as potentially unnecessary restrictions that could lower utilization of their branded biologic.  If they’re successful, then consumers may not have a lower cost alternative for disease states like breast cancer, psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis.

During the intense debate surrounding the ACA, Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it”.  This latest battle, pitting Big Pharma versus consumers (i.e.: senior citizens who are among the highest utilizers of medicine,) is a direct result of big idea politicians giving scant attention to the consequences of their legislative actions.  While they congratulate themselves for forcing their grandiose ideas through the legislatures, they foist yet another ugly battle on Americans that potentially victimizes one of the most vulnerable segments of our society –the elderly.

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Gary Pettigrew
8 years ago

Since it appears pharmaceuticals will play a large part in the future of our members, perhaps a pharmacist should be on your list of contributors!

Concerned Compassionate
8 years ago
Reply to  Gary Pettigrew

A biochemist or doctor would be even better, failing that, a phamacist. I sure don’t want to pay too much attention to a “business graduate” who is now a self declared “expert” in biochemistry and medicine.

And, just what does the Affordable Care Act have to do with the fact that “Big Pharma” is in bed with our lawmakers pushing back on generics? They always have been and they always will be until we achieve real healthcare reform in our nation. Stop blaming Obama for a problem that is mostly driven by corporate PAC,s, and that has been tolerated by the GOP for decades.

Thank God for the one generic I am able to take. The brand name costs nearly $1,000 for a 90 day supply; but, I am able to get the generic “real deal” that works fantastic from a US supplier for only $45 for a 90 day supply.

Anything Obamacare can do to expand the use of generics is a winning proposal for all medical patients.

Concerned Compassionate
8 years ago

I know that some here have posted comments saying that generics are fakes made in China using anything but the right ingredients. That may be true for those who don’t do their homework while shopping. The Internet pharmacy that I use is in Ohio and it is board certified. Not many are. There may only be 10 on the whole web that are certified. The pharmacy boards regulate online drug sellers, just like doctors are regulated, and there is zero tolerance for fakes and/or poor quality. My drug works fine, with no side effects. It has been 6 years now. And, at 1/20th the cost of brand name drug. To find a board certified dealer you can use the government’s own website at And, I found this information in the (God forbid) “liberal” AARP newsletter health column. I will admit is does give me some peace.

8 years ago

While the idea of “sharing the load” is a terrific solution for everything, when intelligent folks probe deeper into the matter, they come up with a different view quite often. Whether the subject is drugs or cell phone systems, there are those who spend the time and money to create and innovate, and those who feel it’s their right to come along for the ride without any skin in the game.
First of all – generics. While these have a place in medicine, they are all definately NOT equal to the original. After 40 year in medicine, I saw the effects of trying to save patients money. Effectiveness, side effects, and the various ways of manufacturing generics play a huge role. One generic may work fine, but a different company makes it a bit differently and bingo, you have problems – perhaps life threatening.
Next – cell phones. The large companies spent the time and money for the infrastructure, towers, and systems to be built so we could have this “new” technology. Then the feds decided it was their “right” for smaller companies to use this stuff for their own systems and compete with the original ones. More theft in the name of “fairness” by our government. If we keep shafting the large companies they will stop innovating and simply sit on their money (like many are doing right now – trillions in cash) instead of creating new things for us to use and enjoy.
Finally, even though I’m older, I don’t think that all of seniors problems are created by others. For a half-century now, those of us in medicine have been telling our patients to eat right, exercise, don’t smoke, and drink in moderation. So many seniors who are sick have ignored the advice about health for most of their lives and now want to cry because they are not in good health. How about some personal responsibility by seniors, similar to the same traits we keep saying we want to see in liberals.

Dennis in TEXAS
8 years ago

Andrew Mangione:
I just watched your interview on Fox News concerning Big Pharma and their fighting generic drugs. It was a very informative piece. A constructive criticism is that “biologiics” we’re not defined. You might also want to add a smile now and again, despite the seriousness of the subject; AMAC needs to keep attracting new members and growing its clout. Thank you!

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