A New Senate & its implications on The Pharmaceutical Sector?

The US elections make big news whenever they occur. The fact that who comes to power has a phenomenal effect on all industries, big or small. One such industry that is bracing for the impact is the Pharmaceutical Sector. Amidst the current pandemic which the world is going through, all eyes are on who takes over the reins of the biggest economy of the world.

But if we assume that only the presidency will determine the fate of this much-focussed industry, we need to think again. It is the majority in the Senate that will decide on the future drug-making policies of some of the biggest pharmaceutical companies of the world. International reference pricing, inflation caps as well as rebate reforms rely on who happens to rule the senate. If in case, Democrats come to power in the senate, it will be interesting to see if they move ahead with the reforms, which in all likelihood they will. Protecting launch prices has been one of the major point of interest for the Biden camp, and if they come to power, one may get to see an independent panel to recommend launch prices. Having said that, it will be a Herculean task to bring this idea to implementation.

That said, the present situation will call for the COVID-19 vaccination being the top priority, more than anything else. Drug pricing reforms may take a back seat even if the Democrats come to power as the focus currently is to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. The backdrop will always be to pave the way for a quick recovery. Industry stalwarts like Walid Gellad, Director of the University of Pittsburgh’s for Pharmaceutical Policy & Prescribing still believes that COVID-19 will have to be put behind before thinking of any major drug pricing initiatives.

Another major concern why one has to give equal, if not more, importance to pricing regulations is the positive effect it shall have when the budgets are tight. A democrat senate would mean that negotiations would take place with the drug makers and a panel shall be formed to independently review the drug benefits. The panel would also take into account the capping of drug prices. Putting drug pricing over profits has been the agenda for democrats during their poll campaign and their seriousness will be put to test if they come to power. However, with results awaited, we only hope that the ultimate beneficiary is the end-user who has been patiently waiting to reap the convenience of fair pricing policies.