I am honored to be named CEO of the Association for Accessible Medicines. Representing the industry responsible for 90 percent of the prescriptions filled in the U.S. provides an unparalleled opportunity to positively impact the lives of hundreds of millions of American patients who rely on generic and biosimilar medicines to maintain and improve their health.
The timing is challenging in many ways – generic drug prices have fallen for most of the past three years; despite these falling prices, out of pocket costs are increasing while patient access is decreasing to more affordable drugs; and the full promise of biosimilars is not being realized with the speed and scale needed to offset the incredible burden being placed on patients and the health care system by expensive biologics.
Despite all those challenges, I am optimistic about the future of our industry. Those issues have ready policy solutions that I look forward to working with the AAM team to implement in the coming months and years. We will build upon the successes that this team has recently achieved – passage of the CREATES Act to end abuses that delayed generic drug development, ratification of the USMCA trade agreement which achieved the right balance between promoting innovation and access, and others – to ensure the sustainability of the generic and biosimilar industries so that those medications are available to all Americans who need them.
The COVID-19 pandemic continually demonstrates that our industry is fundamentally strong and critical to saving lives and containing costs for those stricken with the virus. Our medicines, from the injectables that are essential to placing a patient on a ventilator to the steroid drugs that have reduced the risk of death in COVID patients by one-third, have proven themselves to truly be the bridge to a vaccine.
It is also important to recognize that throughout the pandemic, the generic industry has proven itself able to weather a crisis that could have easily swamped a less-resilient and less-diverse supply chain. That is not to say that there are not improvements that can and should be made. But it is reassuring to know that essential medicines are making it to the hospitals and the patients that need them most. We are building upon proven ground that includes nearly 70 manufacturing facilities and more than 30,000 jobs here in the United States.
Today, patients with chronic conditions and fighting the virus have access to the medicines they need when they need them. Our job is to work with policymakers to ensure that continues. I appreciate the Board’s confidence in me to join this high-performing and effective advocacy team that has shown its commitment to patients and the membership by elevating awareness of the market challenges facing the generic and biosimilar industry and advancing thoughtful and achievable solutions.
By Dan Leonard, AAM President and CEO