On January 16, 2019, Eric Dean, General President of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers and Chairman of PILMA issued the following statement on legislative proposals that would negatively impact innovation and jobs.
The biopharmaceutical industry supports more than 4.7 million American jobs. Significant investment in capital expansion and maintenance by the industry creates union construction jobs, ensuring continued work that keeps our members in the middle class. As Chairman of the Pharmaceutical Industry Labor-Management Association (PILMA), a coalition of unions in the building construction trades and companies in the biopharmaceutical industry committed to advancing medical innovation to cure disease and creating high-quality union construction jobs, I urge your commitment to the bedrock American principles that allow the biopharmaceutical sector to flourish and contribute to U.S. economic growth.
As the 116th Congress opens, there is no lack of poorly conceived ideas being introduced that would have a devastating impact on this vital U.S. sector. PILMA’s longstanding position on price controls in the form of importation and reference pricing states that these policies would upend the discovery of new medicines, halt the expansion of new research and manufacturing facilities and immediately harm union construction jobs.
In addition, the price control mechanisms being proposed would put America’s access to safe medicines at risk. As PILMA detailed in its resolution on importation, it is well documented that unless medicines are produced in the closed prescription drug distribution system overseen by the FDA, there is no way to determine where imported drugs originate. This opens the U.S. market to counterfeit drugs from countries with little to no regulation with the real possibility of harm and fatalities for patients.
Reference pricing is another proposal that would have far-reaching, detrimental consequences. America’s competitive market-based economy enables new medicines to be available to patients in the U.S. often before they are offered in other countries. If implemented, tying the price of medicines to those in less developed countries could delay medicine availability to U.S. patients and present a significant barrier to access.
PILMA has long held positions supporting intellectual property rights and patent protections, policies that position the United States as a world leader in R&D intensive industries. These Constitutionally protected policies provide incentive and predictability for industries to invest with the assurance of the opportunity to recoup investment, a key component when planning capital construction projects that put our members to work.
The biopharmaceutical sector is a vital U.S. industry that makes significant contributions to the growth of the economy and the health of all Americans and those around the world. It is imperative that policies are implemented to boost up this sector rather than try to dismantle it for short-term political gain. I urge you to review the implications of the policies being debated and consider the negative impact they would have on innovation and union construction jobs.