In Response: The Lower Drug Costs Now Act would limit medical innovation

June 24, 2021
The San Diego Union-Tribune
By Scott Peters

Rep. Scott Peters represents the 52nd Congressional District.

Re “Congress should support the Lower Drug Costs Now Act for affordable medicine” (June 21): Annemarie Gibson is 100 percent right that lifeline drugs should not be unaffordable for anybody. H.R.3 (The Lower Drug Costs Now Act) would do two things I support: capping out of pocket costs for seniors and limiting price increases to the rate of inflation. But H.R.3’s use of an international reference to price drugs endangers innovation and the creation of life-changing treatments and cures here in San Diego.

Medical innovation is a partnership between the public sector and private sector. Public investment forms the building blocks of innovation, and I am glad to have helped grow the National Institutes of Health budget from around $30 billion to $41.7 billion. But NIH leaves drug development to private industry because drug development is risky and expensive.

Research! America found that private investment topped $100 billion in 2018. Accounting for failures, developing one new drug costs a company $1 billion to $2 billion. The risk in drug development and commercialization is carried by private investment and that investment is the difference between a critical discovery sitting on a bookshelf or a pharmacy shelf.

H.R.3 would signal to potential investors that they might not be able to recoup their investment even if a product succeeds. Threatening this vital risk capital jeopardizes the ability to find new cures and imperils the 27,000 life sciences jobs here in San Diego. Patients must be able to afford the drugs they need; patients also need cures where we only have treatments, and treatments where we have none. I support finding that balance.

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