Money & Business

Innovation Saves: BIO Attempts to Shift Conversation on Drug Prices

By / Sep 9, 2016 Bill Remak, a subject of BIO's new advertising campaign. (YouTube screenshot)

Drug prices may be expensive, but they cost a whole lot less than the alternative. That’s the case the Biotechnology Innovation Organization is making with its latest marketing campaign.

For years, the pharmaceutical industry has been dogged by complaints about high prices for its life-saving products, such as Daraprim and EpiPens.

That complaint is a hard one to combat, but the Biotechnology Innovation Organization is ready to try. This week, BIO launched a new ad campaign, “Innovation Saves,” to highlight the value of innovation in the biopharmaceutical space.

Its point? The drugs may not be cheap, but they’re very much worth the price.

“We want to make the point that these drugs, whether they’re expensive or not, do save lives,” explained Jim Greenwood, BIO’s CEO, in comments to Bloomberg.

The group, which is also known for its support of biotechnology in the food industry, is planning to spend between $1 million and $5 million on the campaign, which will include television ads and a web resource.

Among the ads is a piece featuring Bill Remak, a man who has greatly benefited from the viral inhibitors that came under scrutiny in 2014, when the manufacturer Gilead Sciences Inc. charged $1,000 per pill for the 12-week regimen.

“These medicines can prevent or curb numerous hospital stays and doctor visits,” Greenwood noted in a news release. “That’s why biopharmaceutical innovation not only helps to save lives, but also saves money.”

America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), a trade group for the insurance industry, wasn’t so impressed by the approach.

“This campaign is about defending the indefensible: astronomical price increases, drug pricing gimmicks, and massive cost increases,” AHIP Spokeswoman Clare Krusing told Bloomberg. “The way that the pharmaceutical industry can show real innovation is by embracing solutions that make treatments and cures affordable to every patient.”

BIO’s approach isn’t the only one of this kind. Earlier this year, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) launched a similar campaign it calls “From Hope to Cures”—with that campaign’s launch coming just days after controversial former drug-company executive Martin Shkreli drew attention for his behavior at a congressional hearing on the issue of drug prices.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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