A Significant Flaw in the Inflation Reduction Act Could Harm My Son



The author fears that a provision in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) could hinder the development of new treatments for psychiatric conditions like schizophrenia. The provision in question provides 13 years of protection from price setting for new large molecule medicines, versus only nine years for small molecule drugs, which are typically used to treat psychiatric diseases. The author calls on Congress to rectify this discrepancy, highlighting a bipartisan proposal called the EPIC Act, which would extend the same 13-year protection to small molecule drugs.

Caring for a Schizophrenic Child and the Importance of Medication

The challenge of raising a child with schizophrenia necessitates reliance on medications that can alleviate the worst symptoms. Breakthrough drugs on the horizon offer hope for patients, but there are concerns these may never come into play due to a provision in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

How the IRA Affects Medication Development

The IRA contains a flaw that could impact the production of new therapies for psychiatric conditions like schizophrenia. The legislation differentiates between classes of medicines that come in pill form, known as small molecule drugs, and those administered by IV or infusion, known as large molecule medicines or “biologics”.

The IRA allows for Medicare to negotiate prices for certain brand-name prescription drugs but offers varying protection periods for new small and large molecule drugs. Small molecule drugs, like those often used in psychiatric treatment, are only protected for nine years, compared to 13 years for biologics.

IRA’s Impact on Psychiatric Drug Research and Development

This disparity threatens those suffering from psychiatric conditions. A recent survey revealed over 80% of bioscience firms researching mental illness believe the law will hinder their R&D. Over 60% plan to move away from the small molecule category entirely due to the high cost of drug development.

The same survey found 95% of companies expect to develop fewer new applications for existing drugs, which could limit the discovery of promising psychiatric medicines for new patient populations.

A study from the University of Chicago suggests the law’s imbalance could result in 79 fewer small molecule drugs being developed in the next two decades.

The Human and Societal Costs of Psychiatric Diseases

The IRA risks exacerbating existing barriers in psychiatric care. Schizophrenia, for example, greatly reduces the ability of sufferers to perform everyday activities and can significantly decrease life expectancy. The National Schizophrenia & Psychosis Action Alliance estimates schizophrenia costs the U.S. over $280 billion annually due to caregiver burden, homelessness, and incarceration.

Hope for Change

While the IRA’s current stance presents a problem, Congress can rectify this. Bipartisan representatives have introduced the EPIC Act, aiming to give small molecule drugs the same 13-year protection as biologics. This small but significant change could ensure millions of patients access the medications they need for a more fulfilling life.

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