Founder of AIDS advocacy group fears price caps would deter pharmaceutical innovation
“I am at odds with a lot of people who think capping prices will make drugs more accessible to everyone,” Zaldivar recently told Patient Daily. “Unfortunately, price caps come with a cost as well. It eliminates innovation and competition. Without that, medicines can’t get better because no one will want to invest.”
With regard to the question of how to avoid price caps, Zaldivar described it as a good question without a good answer.
“Seriously, the only way to remedy and avoid price caps is for government entities to promote competition,” Zaldivar said. “You can’t cap one industry and not cap another. You can’t cap pharmaceutical costs where there are no caps on health insurance or hospital costs. It creates an imbalance in the system.”
Zaldivar argues that the U.S. is still very capitalistic, and since that is the case, we cannot pick one part to regulate and let the other parts continue to grow, but needs to be all or nothing.
“Price caps deter innovation and competition among research organizations,” Zaldivar said. “These caps even deter the human spirit to be the best researchers can be. Competitiveness in the market does work.”
Capping drug costs not only creates issues for HIV/AIDS patients -- it creates issues for every illness, Zaldivar said.
“It affects the entire landscape of the pharmaceutical sector, from cholesterol and diabetes to HIV/AIDS,” Zaldivar said.
Zaldivar explained that medications treating HIV/AIDS have saved many lives in the last 10 years, because investors helped the research to produce medicines to help those infected.
“We have to realign our perspectives about the industry to avoid limiting competition,” he said. “For example, we embrace technology, so when a new smart phone comes out and it costs $600, we don’t ask for regulations and price caps. We find a way to buy it.”
Eliminating competitiveness kills the incentive of the individual who can make a big difference, Zaldivar explained. He argues that patients with HIV/AIDS and other chronic diseases deserve policies that expand rather than reduce access to treatment.
“Making drug discovery a less attractive investment will result in fewer treatments and cures, which provide great value in improving health while also ultimately reducing overall medical spending,” Zaldivar said. “Put simply, imposing artificial limits on drug prices is counterproductive.”
He explained that the treatment has prevented an estimated 862,000 premature deaths and for these hundreds of thousands of survivors, the treatment's value is priceless.
“We simply can't hinder innovation by imposing price controls on current medicines -- this would only discourage the development of new ones,” Zaldivar said. “Instead, expanding treatment coverage and incentivizing the development of better medicines is the surest way to reduce long-term health care spending.”