Tuesday, October 11, 2016

What will the US presidential race mean for healthcare?

Biotech Week Boston. Panel: What our next President mean for Biotech and Pharma

by Julie Walters, Founder Raremark

We’ve heard a lot about the presidential candidates’ tone, style and experience in the presidential debate, but what about their actual policies - particularly in healthcare? Delegates at Biotech Week Boston heard from industry leaders and commentators on what to expect, depending on who wins.

Kathleen Weldon Tregoning, Senior VP, Corporate Affairs at Biogen thought a Democratic win would mean no real surprises as Hillary Clinton has a lot of well-documented policies in health and a long history in the space. The Democratic nominee knows full well that any change in healthcare will be hard. Dylan Scott, Washington correspondent with Statnews.com thought one of Hillary’s first priorities, if she won, would be to decide on where to spend her energies. If the Affordable Care Act (ACA) faces further challenges, he predicted that, in defense of her predecessor’s legacy, ACA would become her first priority.

Less predictable were the policies of the Republican candidate. 
A quick show of hands among 300 delegates showed that only one person thought Trump would win, though the audience may just have been shy. Healthcare was not where Trump had focused his attention, preferring to talk about tax, so his policies were something of a black box.

For David Meeker, Executive VP with Sanofi Genzyme, whoever won wouldn’t change the fact that the pharmaceutical industry would need to continue making the case for value.

“What will persist always is value,” David said. “Today, if you make a drug that produces value, you will be rewarded for it.” It didn’t matter if you were in rare disease or more common conditions like diabetes, every innovator company had to deliver that value argument.

Mason Tenaglia, VP of IMS Institute, believed that, no matter the election result, the healthcare industry as a whole would need to be more transparent on pricing and who was being paid for what.

The panel heard that the US remained the most expensive healthcare system in the world at 17% of GDP, with the cost of a hospital stay three times that of other OECD countries.

Although drug costs had stayed at 10-15% of healthcare spending for the past 40 years, drug manufacturers remained an easy target for politicians; more so in the wake of recent high-profile cases. These included Mylan’s classification of its EpiPen as a generic, thereby receiving higher government reimbursement than had it been a declared a branded drug.

The light on the horizon was the 21st Century Cures Act, slowly passing through Congress. If it passed, approvals would become easier both for new drugs and for medical devices.

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Julie Walters is the founder of Raremark, which helps families affected by rare disease. She recently won Best Investment in a High-Growth Women Founder at the UK Business Angels Association. @julieannwalters

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