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Innovation-Killing Drug Pricing Efforts Put Lifesaving Cures at Risk

By Jay Timmons

As the employers of nearly 13 million Americans, manufacturers care deeply about lowering the cost of health care. As the innovators behind many revolutionary medicines, manufacturers are also committed to delivering lifesaving and life-changing cures for people in this country and around the world. And that is why manufacturers are compelled to oppose H.R. 3, the drug pricing bill on the House floor this week. We need Congress and leaders in Washington to take a better approach to drug pricing that protects our ability to provide quality health care and spur innovation, not squash it.

This bill is a form of price controls, which will choke innovation. Cutting costs is an important goal, but the problem with this proposal—and others, like importing drugs from Canada—is that they would put our health at risk, abandon free market principles and move us closer to a top-down, government-controlled health care system.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers, working with the National Institutes of Health, universities and other private groups, are leading a period of significant medical breakthrough here in the United States. Around the world, about 7,000 medicines are in development. These discoveries are possible because pharmaceutical manufacturers spend more on research and development than any other industry.

Price controls, like those found in H.R. 3, act as a tax on manufacturers, so that would mean less money is spent on this vital R&D. That means taking money away from new cures for the most debilitating and devastating diseases and conditions. Price controls would undermine the ongoing work to save millions of vulnerable people—those suffering from cancer, Alzheimer’s, even blindness.

Our future demands a better approach, and manufacturers want to help be part of the solution. Our top priorities should be ensuring safety and quality, while upholding the values that make our country exceptional and economy strong: free enterprise, competitiveness, individual liberty and equal opportunity.

There is no silver bullet to lowering health care costs, and everyone has a part to play. Unfortunately, H.R. 3 has become a bill that caters to the extremes, at the expense of building consensus around more reasonable proposals.

To be successful, we have to address inefficiency, affordability, outcomes and flexibility to drive down health care costs without adding new burdens and complications to an already complex system. And we cannot put our country’s leadership in innovation or the development of tomorrow’s cures at risk.

There are approximately 1,100 pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities in the United States. The men and women who keep them running go to work every day with one goal: to keep Americans healthy. We know that our elected leaders share that goal as well, but good intentions must be paired with good policy. We hope they will listen to our concerns, support manufacturers and oppose H.R. 3 and other misguided, innovation-killing proposals in favor of more constructive solutions.

Jay Timmons is president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers.