It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future. So, only days and weeks past a national election that saw historic voter turnout, do we have any idea how the election of Joe Biden as President will impact the life sciences industry? Based on how President Trump governed for the last four years and the platform Biden ran on, we can say for sure that things will change, and it will impact the biopharma sector in real ways. Will those changes be a net positive? We think so and here’s why.
Drug Pricing Reform
Unexpectedly for a Republican, President Trump proposed and supported aggressive drug pricing reforms during his term, including a Most Favored Nation pricing proposal for drugs in Medicare Parts B and D, and allowing states to import prescription drugs from abroad. Trump also, on numerous occasions, publicly expressed support for various Republican-led legislative proposals on drug pricing reforms, even while he strongly opposed House Democrats’ passed legislation, which included many of the same concepts.
On paper, President-elect Biden’s policy positions on drug pricing are even worse. While he also supports some kind of international pricing index for Medicare drugs and drug importation, he goes a step further. Biden may also propose legislation to allow the government to negotiate directly with manufacturers in Medicare Part D, and push policies that limit drug price increases to inflation across government payers.
VERDICT: President-elect Biden will be worse on drug pricing reform for the life sciences industry than President Trump, but not by much.
Trust in Science and Government Agencies
Throughout his Presidency, and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump often questioned the integrity of government agencies and officials in charge of our country’s public health. Whether the FDA, CDC, or Dr. Anthony Fauci, Trump impugned their trustworthiness and dedication to do what’s right for the American people.
On the other hand, President-elect Biden has spent much of his campaign expressing strong support for our government agencies and its leaders, often arguing that we as the American people need to trust institutions like the FDA to do what’s right even if it takes longer than we’d want. President-elect Biden also led the Cancer Moonshot effort as Vice-President and believes in the power of government for good.
VERDICT: President-elect Biden will lead a government that believes in science and trusts in its government leaders and agencies to do what’s right without politicization. He also has experience and the belief in supporting new and big government initiatives such as the Cancer Moonshot which could extend to other ideas supporting drug development.
President Trump spent his time in office supporting policies and signing executive orders that severely limited both legal and illegal immigration. From the “Muslim ban” to further limiting work (e.g. H-1B) and family visas, Trump has made it much harder, and much less desirable, for immigrants to come to America even those with advanced degrees or specialized skills.
President-elect Biden has pledged to rollback many of Trump’s immigration policies immediately and will seek to reform the temporary visa system along with expanding the number of high-skilled visas and eliminating the limits on employment-based visas by country.
VERDICT: While some of President-elect Biden’s proposed immigration policies will rely on the support of Congress, his approach of reversing President Trump’s policies while also seeking to increase the number of high-skilled visas, will allow life sciences companies in the U.S. to better recruit the diverse talent necessary for us to continue to be the world leader in the development of new cures and therapies.
In summary, when considering just these three areas of Presidential policy that impact the life sciences industry, it’s a bit of a mixed bag when assessing the impact of a Biden Administration on the life sciences industry. In many ways, our industry is doing better than ever this year, with record-high numbers of IPOs and impressive funding amounts. Yet, in the long-term, our industry relies on a strong FDA, a widespread belief in science, and stability from the government in order to be successful. When looking at Biden’s policy positions and his past actions as Vice-President and Senator, we believe his presidency will be a net positive for our industry.