US Representative Richard Neal told biotech executives Friday that they’ll continue to be under a microscope as politicians in Washington carp about rising drug prices in an election year.
“The conversation about drug pricing isn’t going to disappear in the next seven months,” Neal, the dean of the Massachusetts congressional delegation, warned the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council. “And it calls on all of you to explain what you do. And there’s a lot of upfront costs to what you do.”
Neal admitted, “It’s a complicated argument” at a time when critics and some presidential candidates have called for price caps on prescription medicines.
A separate panel of executives and investors at the meeting described the mounting criticism of drug makers as a form of scapegoating that fails to recognize that medicines save and extend lives.
“As an industry, we’re getting bullied,” said Amir Nashat, managing partner at Polaris Partners, a Boston venture capital firm that bankrolls biopharma companies. “We get bullied by insurance companies that demand bigger discounts . . . We get bullied by politicians and public policy people.”
Paris Panayiotopoulos, chief executive of Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc. in Cambridge, said, “We have to as an industry take some accountability for clearly communicating the value we bring to patients.”