What were the issues?
Table 8 shows that, for the third consecutive year, the top issues were related to healthcare reform and Medicare/Medicaid
drug coverage. All 16 articles mentioned healthcare reform with three of those 16 articles also mentioning Medicare/Medicaid
drug coverage. Issues previously mentioned, such as reimportation/importation and high drug prices, were not mentioned. The
former, reimportation, appears a dead letter at this point, which may be due to the convergence of currency exchange rates
between the United States and Canada.
Table 8: Ethical Issues Related to Healthcare Reform
Implications of healthcare reform for pharma
Many forecasts indicate that there will be a significant increase in the number of patients, about 35 million, obtaining healthcare
insurance without the impediment of "no coverage" for pre-existing conditions. It is assumed that this will increase the demand
for pharmaceuticals. Accordingly, pharma companies are taking decisive short-term and long-term actions to be prepared. This
includes restructuring and in some cases adding sales reps to capture their fair share of incremental volume. Additionally,
while prescribers may be less enthusiastic about the required preparatory steps before the PPACA is implemented in 2014, pharma
companies are designing programs to help busy physician practioners, who may see their patient volume increase between 10
percent to 20 percent.
Long-term, pharma companies are positioning themselves for the shift in age demographics in the United States. According to
the Media Policy Center, today there are more elderly parents needing care than the country's nine million children. Product
solutions for medical problems attendant with age, such as Alzheimer's disease, are the next blockbuster for the pharma company
that solves this challenge. Research that Lilly (a company that has remained under the media's radar screen) conducted with
the Memory and Aging Program at Butler Hospital has yielded the first FDA-approved diagnostic radiopharmaceutical, Anyvid
(Florbetapir F18), which uses PET scanning to estimate the beta-amyloid neuritic plaque density accompanying Alzheimer's disease.
This is the type of innovative approach by pharma needed to meet the challenge.
George Sillup, PhD, is Arrupe Fellow and Associate Professor at St. Joseph's University, Philadelphia, PA. He can be reached at Sillup@sju.edu
. Stephen Porth, PhD, is Associate Dean, Arrupe Fellow and Professor at St. Joseph's. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Cynthia Slater, SJU's Business Reference Librarian, and SJU students Leo Porth, Danielle Puccini, and Ryan Fox also contributed to this research.