State of the Union address draws mixed responses from drug industry

WASHINGTON — Some people liked President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night, and some people didn't, and the response from the drug industry was no less mixed.

The Generic Pharmaceutical Association called for measures to lower healthcare costs, including ensuring that generic pharmaceuticals and biosimilars reach patients' hands quickly and also avoiding measures intended to provide savings that the GPhA said would raise prescription drug costs, though the grow didn't specify what those measures were.

"While many factors driving health costs, such as an aging population, are inevitable, others are not," GPhA president and CEO Ralph Neas said. "We know that policies that encourage generic and biosimilar utilization hold the promise of saving tens of billions over the next decades."

Meanwhile, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which lobbies on behalf of brand drug makers, criticized what it called the Obama administration's plans to "upend" Medicare Part D by imposing price controls on it.

"The facts about Part D are simple and do not support this radical proposal," PhRMA SVP Matthew Bennett said. "Part D succeeds for seniors and taxpayers because it's built on effective competition and the savings negotiated by large, powerful plans — the same plans used by private employers and insurers — on behalf of seniors and taxpayers."

Still, PhRMA praised Obama's expression of support for industry research.

"In his speech tonight, the president recognized the enormous human and economic value of biomedical research, and the extraordinary importance of developing new medicines," Bennett said, noting that the drug sector has one of the most intensive focuses on research and development and accounts for 20% of R&D funding, the single largest share in the country, according to the National Science Foundation.

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