I recently spent several days in Hartford testifying on a variety of proposed legislative bills. Our legislators sit patiently as literally hundreds of their constituents attend the hearings to support or oppose legislation of interest. Some of the presentations I sat through related to enormously complicated matters. I do admire the dedication, patience and perseverance that our legislators display as they sit for hours and hours and asking relevant questions about the subject at hand. While many of the legislative proposals discussed are necessary in order to have a fair supportive society, others are unnecessary and indeed cause great concern.
For example, several proposed bills seek to legislate the free market practice aimed at the pharmaceutical industry. While no one can argue with the need to reign in healthcare spending, doing so by trying to tamper with the free marketplace could be harmful to Connecticut’s economy. Efforts to force the pharmaceutical industry through unprecedented, egregious regulations will do nothing to help patient’s pocketbooks and more to harm the industry as a whole, an industry that employs thousands of high paying jobs in our state.
Connecticut has done a good job in promoting the biotechnology sector of the economy, especially in the Southeastern corner of the state. From startups to industry giants, this is home to some of the finest scientific minds in the country, the world. These folks pay taxes, spend money in our economy and help attract other likeminded businesses to the state. We need to foster these businesses, not put in place mandates that make them question doing business here.
Proposed legislation to increase transparency around pharmaceutical pricing seeks to require those companies to disclose highly sensitive pricing structures, research and development costs and strategies, and other proprietary information. The solution to controlling healthcare costs is far more complex than just one piece of the industry. There is no doubt that pharmaceutical companies have a role to play in the cost of medications, but so do insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers.
We are blessed in this country to have such great innovative health care. We cannot forget that this innovation is made possible through the profits made by pharmaceutical companies. These profits spur and support the next round of scientific innovation. Success breeds success in this industry.
Just a few years ago, did anyone think we’d have a vaccine that can prevent one type of deadly cancer? Did we think we’d be finding cures for diseases like hepatitis? No—but because of the innovation within the scientific community, that’s a reality. Some of these discoveries are being made right here —but they take time and money. We need to foster that, not fight it with regulations that will inhibit advancement in this important industry.
Legislation will not lower the cost you pay at the pharmacy for your medications. In fact, efforts to legislate this industry or any other industry serves no useful purpose other than run the risk that these companies will begin to look elsewhere to conduct their business. If our lawmakers really want to make an impact on the lives of Connecticut residents, they should reject proposals that stand in the way of innovation and medical advancements.
Tony Sheridan is the President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut.