Okay, schadenfreude is wrong. It is bad. I know.
But I can’t help myself. There is something highly satisfying about watching big pharma twist slowly, slowly in the breeze at the prospect that the Supreme Court will overturn the Affordable Care Act.
The pharmaceutical industry often gets a bum rap. As a rule, I am very rah rah for business, and the pharmaceutical business develops wonderful new drugs, and we should hope that it continues to make sufficient profit to continue doing that.
Still, the rush of big pharma to cut deals with the Obama administration to reap the princely reward from government’s forcing us to become a nation of captive customers (the individual mandate) was unseemly. They deserve the anguish.
Big Pharma doesn’t appear to be looking forward to having to go back to the drawing board on health-care reform if the landmark legislation is somehow struck down by an upcoming Supreme Court decision….
And what would be most disruptive to the industry if the current act is struck down?
Topping the list, said Castellani, would be the loss of a regulatory pathway for the approval of generic biologics, or biosimilars, which was finally established, after years of debate, under the Affordable Care Act. If the act is scrapped, the industry may have to wait some time for the provision to be reintroduced in Congress.
Also at issue is how scrapping of the act would impact certain prescription drug benefits included under Medicare Part D.
“If it’s struck down, then it all has to be reconstructed,” added Castellani.
Meanwhile, Sanofi CEO Chris Viehbacher, PhRMA’s outgoing chairman, told listeners during his speech Thursday that overturning the bill would “have a massive impact on our businesses,” according to Dow Jones Newswires.
Well, of course, we do want companies to make money. They should have the right to hold onto the patents for drugs they pay to develop long enough for such drugs to fetch them a reward on their investment. And, of course, it would also be a shame if shareholders suffered. Indeed, there are probably a lot of you out there who have pharmaceuticals in your portfolio, and I certainly don't want anybody's stock to plummet.
But the drug company executives were willing to make deals that helped enable the passage of a horrendous piece of legislation. Should we be surprised that one of the president’s major bundlers is a big pharma executive? It may be that the Supreme Court will uphold Obamacare, and big pharma's angst will prove to have been unnecessary.
Indeed, conservatives should be cautious about premature rejoicing. You can’t tell from oral arguments what the ruling will be, even if some of the questions asked by justices gave a glimmer of hope. But it’s nice to think that the lobbyist friends of the administration that promised it wouldn’t have lobbyist friends may be in a blue mood today.
Of course, as the Market Watch story just cited makes clear, even if Obamacare is overturned, the health care system is a mess.
It will need reform even if the robed ones rescue us from the mandate.