BIO CEO Makes Case For Innovation

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  • 01/14/2016
In recent days Acorda CEO and BIO CEO Ron Cohen has emerged on the biotech’s sector most effective and articulate voice on medical innovation and drug pricing.

Cohen was quoted in several articles on drug pricing (at least he was taken out of context and misquoted).  And yesterday he was part of a CNBC panel discussion on the cost of medicines. 

The headline for the video blares “Rising drug costs only 'getting worse': Expert”

The expert being Peter Bach.  The definition of an expert is a person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area.

Bach first claimed that drugs are 20 percent of health care spending.  Then he every study shows that drugs like Sovaldi are more expensive than the care it replaces.  He then went on to claim such drugs that Sovaldi aren’t a cure because people can get re-infected with Hepatitis C,

Cohen said:

1. Sovaldi is a medical miracle and do ‘really’ cure.   Beating the virus into submission is the same as NOT having the disease.
2. The insurer funded Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) shows that even at list prices, Hep C drugs are cost effective.  (Other studies come to the same conclusions.)
3. List price is not what drug companies get. Part of that price become rebates to payers and therefore support a whole posse of PBMs, insurers and oncologists (who get 6 percent of the drug cost as a fee for administering them).

As for the the 20 percent claim, Cohen said that the bigger issue is how to reduce the total cost of care overall and increase value.  Who cares if drugs are 90 percent of the cost of a treatment if it leads to more productivity, longevity and lower spending than would be the case in the absence of such medicines?

It was one of the first times that a media outlet allowed a balanced discussion of drug prices.   And when given the chance to respond, Cohen nailed it.

Bach made claims that belied a lack of authoritative knowledge.  


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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