In a interview with Fortune journalist Sy Mukherjee, Ben Saunders has been challenging the pharmaceutical industry to get its drug pricing house in order, and speaking out on the realities of business in President Donald Trump’s America.
Ben Saunders, two before Donald Trump had been elected US President and before he saying the pharma companies are “getting away with murder” on pricing, promised to voluntarily limit drug price increases at Allergan
After he launched a “social contract” with patients in September 2016 swearing to cap branded drug price hikes at a maximum of 10% year-over-year, in the interview he sets out this ultimate goal: to get average branded price increases more or less in line with inflation.
He considers President Trump a populist who will turn his ire on the entire industry if the public backlash is loud enough, that’ why he thinks better self-regulate rather than be regulated:
“I think the real issue is, the system we have today encourages capital money to be put at risk to try to to solve unmet medical need. If the government intervenes and takes over… I worry that the fragility of the innovation and the types of risks that we have to take will start to disappear. And as a result of that some of these big challenges we face like Alzheimer’s or autism will never be solved or they will be solved too late for too many people.”
Passing on the new state of pharma industry in US, Saunders comments “I’ve always been of the mindset that change brings opportunity,” he says. “You can make change your ally, or you can fear change.” It is probably following this philosoy that brought Saunders to be responsible for at least 18 deals valued at about $13.5 billion since his time at Forest Laboratories (and that doesn’t even include other licensing arrangements or more recently announced partnerships).
Saunders argues that there’s only so much you can do when you’re employing science from a single talent pool, no matter how well-funded or talented it is.
That’s why Allergan, through its own in-house R&D programs and acquisitions, has a large number of projects in development: more than 65.
Allergan have, as Saunders defines them, six star candidates highlighted for investors to to focus on.
All six of them are blockbuster potential drugs in late very late stage development this year with peak sales of potentially $13 billion or more.
From eye care therapies to brain disorder drugs to gastrointestinal medicines the range of drugs is quiete borad. However there is one Saunders singles out: rapastinel, a developmental treatment for major depression that he hopes can cut the risk of suicidal thoughts: “Rapastinel has the potential to change how we think about treating depression, and major depressive disorders, and potentially suicidality – which is a top 10 cause of death with, frankly, very few treatment options, if any at all.” Saunders says.
Read further on: Fortune