Actions, Not Words, Define Sanofi’s Approach to Responsible Pricing

By Adam Gluck, Head of U.S. External Affairs, Sanofi

Medicines must be affordable to the patients who need them. That is a universal truth acknowledged within the pharmaceutical industry, but we often present muddled messages when we talk about the topic, emphasizing words – such as “access” – that touch on, but don’t directly address, the question that matters most to patients: can I afford my medicine?

As an industry, we must and can do better at answering that question.

That was the primary driver behind Sanofi’s 2017 decision to develop a set of Pricing Principles to address the issue of affordability head on. We aimed for simplicity, making three commitments to patients: we will not take price increases that go above the U.S. National Health Expenditure (NHE) projected growth rate, we will price new drugs according to their value to patients and the overall health care system, and we will be transparent about how much our prices rise – or fall.

However, making a public declaration is easy. Living up to the letter of that commitment – and the spirit of the Principles – is how we measure success.

That is why, every year, we take an exhaustive look at our pricing and access practices to make sure that we are living by our Principles. Here is how we did in 2018:

  • More than half of the medicines in our portfolio had no price increase.
  • For the 35 therapies and vaccines where list prices increased, all increases were within our Principle guidelines.
  • Across our portfolio, the average aggregate list price grew by a 4.6 percent, and the net price – the price actually paid by insurance companies and their benefit managers -- dropped by 8 percent.

However, we recognize that these efforts are not enough. Limiting price increases and being value-minded when new drugs are approved doesn’t automatically translate to patient benefit.

Americans, particularly those who are uninsured or those who face large deductibles imposed by their health plan, may be put in the position of paying a medicine’s list price, reflecting a failure in our health care system. To address that, we have worked on innovative solutions to such problems, including a new effort – the Insulins ValYOU Savings Program – that offers discounts of more than 50 percent off the list price to uninsured or underinsured patients prescribed our insulins.

It is our hope that by being transparent about how we price our drugs, we are playing a role in making sure that all patients can share in the benefits of this golden age of medical innovation.

While we recognize that there are actions that Sanofi can and must take on its own, our vision of a U.S. health care system in which affordability is never a concern can’t be realized alone. It will take a coalition – of drugmakers, insurers, doctors, patients, legislators, and dozens of other stakeholders – all working together with a singular goal: a health system where patients always come first.