Now Is Not the Time to Chill Drug Research

Now Is Not the Time to Chill Drug Research
As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, all eyes are on the United States for smart strategies, treatments and a cure.

The good news: Our biopharmaceutical companies have been working around the clock to deliver help as quickly as possible.
And yet, some lawmakers are pushing for a bill that could stifle the desire to invest in lifesaving innovation.

Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), have been racing to pass their sweeping Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act. The measure would effectively impose price controls and massive new taxes on pharmaceutical innovators.

Implementation of this legislation would prove devastating on a pandemic scale. Drug developers devote billions of dollars to bring a single new treatment to market. At a time when their fast-tracked research and development investments are needed more than ever, the proposed reform could push research for COVID-19 treatments out of reach.

Right now, researchers are developing nearly two dozen potential vaccines and drugs specifically designed to combat COVID-19. And there are an additional 80 experimental treatments for all coronavirus strains — including SARS and MERS — in clinical trials. Any one of them could provide the right answer to our current national crisis.

Major U.S. drug developers have spearheaded these rapid development efforts. For instance, Gilead quickly ramped up its production of remdesivir — an investigational drug originally designed to treat the Ebola virus — to help fight severe coronavirus cases. The company hopes to complete clinical trials later this year and receive FDA approval for widespread distribution soon after.

Meanwhile, Sanofi is leveraging its experience developing a vaccine for SARS to unlock a breakthrough for COVID-19. And Johnson & Johnson is working on producing a coronavirus treatment based on its vaccine for the Ebola virus.

None of these ventures would be possible within a price-controlled market. In 2018 alone, major pharmaceutical companies poured nearly $80 billion into research and development.

Much of that is reinvested revenue from existing treatments. Arbitrary government restrictions on this revenue would severely chill the research companies could conduct.

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