Op-ed: IRA Drug Price Controls Will Hurt Cancer Drug Development

On May 18th, an op-ed by ASBM Steering Committee Member Andrew Spiegel ran in the Reading Eagle. Mr. Spiegel is a founding member of ASBM and Executive Director of the Global Colon Cancer Association. In the op-ed, Spiegel highlights the importance of small-molecule drugs in cancer therapy, and notes how the IRA disincentivizes their development:

The rate of colorectal cancer in Americans under 55 has nearly doubled since the 1990s, and scientists don’t really know why. By 2030, colorectal cancer is predicted to become the leading cause of cancer deaths for people under 50, and is already the second leading cause of all cancer deaths, behind only lung cancer.

We need more and better treatments, and we need them now.

Unfortunately, the new drug-pricing rules enacted in the Inflation Reduction Act will stymie efforts to develop new cancer treatments.

Under the IRA, Medicare will be able to negotiate with drug makers for lower prices on an expanding list of brand-name medications. Drugs are divided into two categories: small- molecule drugs, which are chemical compounds typically available in pill form that patients pick up at the pharmacy and take at home; and biologics, which are extracted from living organisms and usually need to be administered by infusion or injection in a health care facility.

Both types of drugs are crucial to oncology treatment. Unfortunately, the IRA all but ensures that investment will pivot away from small molecule drugs towards biologics in the coming years. The IRA makes small molecule drugs eligible for price controls nine years after FDA approval — four years sooner than biologics.

Read the full op-ed here.