GUEST POST: Now is the Time to Act for Patients

By: Robert Anderson, VP of Corporate Affairs, Boehringer Ingelheim USA Corporation; President, Boehringer Cares Foundation

At Boehringer Ingelheim, we believe in taking action. As a patient-first company that thrives on developing innovative therapies, we firmly believe that everyone deserves access to affordable medicines and treatments and that’s why we decided we could not wait and are introducing a solution now.

Boehringer Ingelheim’s new program – the first of its kind for patients with COPD and asthma – will cap out-of-pocket costs at $35 per month for eligible patients* for all our inhaler products beginning June 1, 2024. With this commitment, we’re simplifying the complex for patients who have had difficulty paying for their medicines within the current health care system. While this is just one step, we’re hopeful the underinsured and uninsured will now be able to afford the Boehringer inhalers they need.

It may be surprising to hear this from a pharmaceutical executive like me, but the reality is that health care costs in the U.S. are too high, and the system is too complex. When patients are forced to choose between purchasing their medicines and making next month’s rent, there’s no doubt there are massive systemic failures. The interplay between list prices, rebates, and insurance formularies in the U.S. is intricate, often not aligning with the most cost-effective solutions for patients. It’s frustrating and simply unacceptable that the longstanding rebates and discounts Boehringer offers on our medicines haven’t always made their way to the intended recipients —patients. With this new program, we’re doing our part to simplify the complex and offer predictability, affordability, and consistency for our most vulnerable patients. But this is a short-term measure. We need a long-term solution that addresses systemic failures.

While our commitment to investing in new therapies and making them affordable and accessible is longstanding, this program is unique. It’s more expansive than any we’ve offered in the past, and we recognized the need and were the first ones to take such an action to address the critical issue of affordability for patients ranging from children to the elderly who struggle with respiratory illnesses. Boehringer is an independent, patient-driven company, which is what allows us to take innovative and bold business actions for the people who need them most. In addition, we are committed to working with patient advocates, pharmacies, providers, and other key partners to ensure that patients can successfully and easily access these medications.

While our program represents a major step forward in improving access to our medicines, our work on behalf of patients is far from done — but we can’t fix the entire system alone. What we find challenging is that drug pricing discussions often sidestep the core issues in today’s complex health care system in the U.S.  We need larger system reforms to bring forward long-term solutions. We welcome — and need — others to join us to support more substantiative reform, and we need Congress to act now.

Until that happens, we will continue to do our part in building policies that support lasting reform. Creating solutions that will positively impact patients’ lives remains Boehringer Ingelheim’s top priority and unchanging, relentless purpose. Life-changing innovation can and should be available to everyone. We look forward to conversations with policymakers and industry partners to enact reforms that put patients where they deserve to be – at the center of the health care system.

*Terms and conditions apply. Government restrictions exclude people enrolled in federal government insurance programs from co-pay support.

Boehringer Ingelheim is a member of the National Health Council. For more information on NHC membership, please email [email protected].