Lawmakers must vote to advance bill that would force pharmaceutical corporations to disclose the costs of clinical trials
NEW YORK, APRIL 7, 2022—The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) applauds today’s introduction of the Pharmaceutical Research Transparency Act of 2022, which would require pharmaceutical corporations and other drug developers to disclose the costs of future clinical trials on a government website and could play a key role in expanding access to medicines for people everywhere.
Pharmaceutical corporations justify charging high prices for medicines, vaccines, and diagnostics by saying that it costs billions to bring them to market. However, there’s no way to know how truthful these claims are because companies don’t disclose how much they actually spend on research and development (R&D) in any detail. Clinical trials are widely regarded as the most expensive part of this process. Making clinical trial costs public would put governments and treatment providers like MSF in a better position to demand and negotiate fair prices.
MSF has been calling on the US government to disclose the costs of future clinical trials on ClinicalTrials.gov, a public website where drug developers are already legally bound to disclose trial results—or in a separate repository linked to ClinicalTrials.gov. Most recently, MSF and more than 35 other groups sent a letter to the Biden administration demanding that they force pharmaceutical companies to disclose the costs associated with clinical trials.
Ava Alkon, policy advisor at MSF-USA, said of the bill’s introduction:
“We welcome today’s introduction of the Pharmaceutical Research Transparency Act of 2022 and call for its swift passage. We’re pleased to see lawmakers take meaningful action toward fixing a broken medical R&D system that has failed to make medical tools affordable or accessible for all people who need them.
“Forcing pharmaceutical corporations and other drug developers to disclose clinical trial costs will give us all more leverage to advocate for fair prices on medicines, vaccines, and diagnostics for everyone, everywhere.
“We can’t afford to operate blindly anymore. Each and every day in more than 70 countries across the world, our medical teams on the ground treat people who are directly and disproportionately affected by the high prices that pharmaceutical corporations charge—from pneumonia vaccines to tuberculosis treatments to COVID-19 tests.
“For years, pharma has perpetuated a myth that they have to charge high prices to pay for R&D, often pointing to clinical trial costs as the most expensive part of bringing a drug to market. But these costs haven’t been made public—even when public taxpayer money is footing the bill. As the largest public funder of biomedical research in the world, the US government must use its position to demand pharmaceutical corporations and other drug developers start sharing clinical trial costs.
“Lawmakers must vote to advance this bill out of committee; it’s time for the US government to stop protecting pharmaceutical profits and start protecting people's health.”