The Inflation Reduction Act Is a Death Sentence for Patients | Citizens Against Government Waste

The Inflation Reduction Act Is a Death Sentence for Patients

The WasteWatcher

President Biden has signed into law H.R. 5376, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) (Pub. L. No. 117-169).  The IRA authorizes $739 billion in reckless spending for the Democrats’ climate change agenda; expands the Internal Revenue Service by increasing its budget by 600 percent and adding 87,000 more employees, which will make the agency larger than the State Department, FBI, and Customs and Border Patrol combined; and endangering the lives of millions of Americans by setting price controls on pharmaceuticals, which will devastate future research and development and significantly reduce treatments and cures.  While there were numerous studies and analyses that showed the legislation would not reduce inflation before it was passed, it was only afterward that the mainstream media and bill sponsors like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who was justly named Citizens Against Government Waste’s August Porker of the Month, agreed with that conclusion. 

The most egregious provisions of the new law will allow the federal government to set prices and establish price ceilings, interfering with future drug development will ultimately lead to less access and higher drug prices.  CAGW’s November 2021 issue brief, “Pharmaceutical Price Controls Are Bad Medicine,” warned about the negative impacts these price controls will have on patients and these concerns have been reiterated in subsequent publications.

Internal government analysis and third-party studies also verify these concerns.  An August 2022 University of Chicago issue brief, “The Impact of Biopharmaceutical Innovation on Health Care Spending,” found that price controls would increase healthcare spending by $50.8 billion over the next 20 years and result in 135 fewer new drugs, negatively impacting the lives of 2.47 million patients.  A November 29, 2021, University of Chicago issue brief phrased the impact of 135 fewer new drugs as “generating a loss of 331.5 million life years in the U.S., 31 times as large as the 10.7 million life years lost from COVID-19 in the U.S. to date.  These estimated effects on the number of new drugs brought to market are 27 times larger than projected by CBO, which finds only five drugs will be lost through 2039, equaling a 0.63 percent reduction.”  Following the signing of the IRS, Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks said, “I would be shocked if the impact of this bill doesn’t result 15 fewer drugs from Eli Lilly and Company alone.”  He added that every one of the company’s small molecule projects, which are 40 percent of its portfolio, would all have to be reevaluated.  

The Marshall amendment, introduced by Senator Roger Marshall M.D. (R-Kan.), was proposed in an effort to limit the negative implications of the innovation stifling price controls.  The amendment was rejected by a 50-50 vote.  The amendment would have protected patient access to current and future treatments for debilitating diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, sickle cell disease, and others.  The failure to pass this amendment or eliminate the price controls from the bill constitutes a death sentence for many rare disease patients and those suffering from debilitating diseases without cures, as well as other diseases and possibly a future pandemic.  Sen. Marshall’s August 6, 2022, Fox Newsop-ed outlined how the IRA could delay cures for some diseases for decades. 

Price controls historically create shortages and rationing.  Only competition will drive innovation and lead to lower costs in the medical marketplace.  Limiting access to new cures harms patients and results in higher prices.  It is time Congress learns big government is the problem, not the solution.  The human cost of the lives that will be lost due to undeveloped cures should lie on the conscience of every senator who rejected the Marshall amendment and supported the IRA.