Well-funded scientific research, not price controls, is needed now and in the future

By Jack Finn

The coronavirus pandemic has upended life as we know it, and no one is immune to its impact. America is adjusting to life with social distancing and self-quarantining, essentially isolating ourselves from each other. Most people surely feel like it’s been the longest few days of their lives — but people like me have an even higher cause for concern during this worldwide global health crisis. Now more than ever, Americans realize the crucial impact that the biopharmaceutical industry has on our daily lives. I know I have. 

In June of last year, during a routine consultation with my doctor, he discovered a tumor on my tonsil. Following an on-the-spot biopsy, he grimly told me that he was pretty certain the tumor was cancerous. His diagnosis was confirmed a few days later. Surgery followed, then five weeks of daily radiation treatments. The care I’ve received has been excellent, my prognosis is good. My team of doctors is pleased with my progress so far.  

Like most every other aspect of my life, however, my recovery has been complicated by the coronavirus outbreak. My oncologist has asked that all routine, follow-up appointments be rescheduled — but I had to venture to his office recently and mingle with the other patients in order to get important test results that cannot be delivered over the phone. 

This small anecdote speaks to a larger issue. Currently, our health care system is being consumed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and for good reason. But this poses serious issues for recovering patients like me, and many in far worse situations, or patients currently in need of treatment. 

I remain optimistic, though, not only in terms of my own recovery but also for our collective recovery. We’ve already seen significant progress in the industry’s journey to treat and cure COVID-19, and I’m proud to live in America with the greatest minds working on this deadly disease. While the fate of our country’s well-being hangs in the balance, this fact gives me hope; America will overcome this obstacle. 

However, our country’s ability to do so is greatly dependent on scientists’ ability to find and produce a cure. With the looming threat of government price controls, that ability is severely hindered. Price controls deprive biopharmaceutical companies of the financial backing they need to continue investing in their work, limiting outcomes and access, and increasing wait times. 

That isn’t something our population can afford at this time; especially not immuno-compromised folks like me. Placing limits on innovation for the sake of lower costs in the meantime is a risk we as a country should not take. We need our lawmakers to abandon policies that will place price controls on medicine that could cause an irreversible ripple effect in the innovation space, putting more time between the present crisis and a future cure. 

Jack Finn is the national communications director for Marsy’s Law for All. He has worked in media and politics in Nevada for more than 20 years.