The pharmaceutical industry’s proposed merger with the Food and Drug Administration could help to lower the cost of some common medical treatments.
But in addition to cutting the price of medicines, the proposed deal would also make it easier for drug companies to use patented drugs in new, more widely available forms, according to a study published in the journal Science Advances.
The research, which was led by scientists at the National Institutes of Health, suggests the deal could lead to new and better treatments for diseases including asthma, diabetes and obesity.
The researchers also suggested that it could create a more diverse, more competitive marketplace for the FDA to regulate.
“Our study shows that even with this merger, FDA’s current rules for patenting will likely not protect all patients and patients will still have a greater opportunity to negotiate a lower price than currently available,” said study lead author Jonathan T. Katz, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and an associate professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Policy and Management.
The merger between Pfizer and Valeant Pharmaceuticals, the two largest drug companies in the world, could have a profound effect on the industry.
“It’s going to affect everything from cancer treatment to heart disease,” said Tom Hester, president of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, a trade group that represents the industry’s top pharmacy chains.
“This merger is going to make the drug industry a lot more efficient, and that will make it more attractive to doctors to prescribe those drugs.”
The FDA has approved more than $3.4 billion in drugs from the two companies in recent years, including two that have been widely used to treat asthma and obesity in adults.
The industry is still waiting for FDA approval of a third drug, Epidiolex, which is used to help treat certain types of epilepsy.
The FDA also approved a drug called Vioxx, which has been approved in a number of countries to treat HIV/AIDS and to help people with heart disease.
But the deal, if it goes through, could put more pressure on the agency to approve new drugs.
The agency has previously approved generic versions of drugs from Pfizer, which have made it easier to use cheaper versions of existing drugs.
“The FDA is not likely to approve generic drugs for these diseases that were approved by the FDA before the merger because of the cost associated with generic drugs,” said Jeffrey S. Katz of Johns Hopkins University.
“There’s a very small risk that the FDA will approve generic versions in those cases because it’s too expensive.”
The researchers found that in 2015, generic versions cost more than twice as much as the older, more expensive versions.
The cheaper generic versions are more likely to be available in a given area, and because of their generic status, they can be easily obtained from generic drug companies, said the researchers.
The new merger could make it cheaper to use some of the newer, more common drugs in the U.S., including some of those for which there are no generic versions.
These drugs include anti-inflammatory drugs, diabetes medications and anti-fibromyalgia medications.
The study found that the more common and more widely used drugs would also have a smaller impact on overall healthcare spending.
The scientists calculated the cost per patient for an asthma-like condition, which the researchers defined as having an elevated risk of wheezing, with the risk of developing pneumonia or COPD.
The cost per asthma-related treatment was also lower for patients who had a low risk of asthma.
The price per asthma treatment was $7,500 lower for people who had the lowest risk of pneumonia, and the price per COPD treatment was less than $1,000 lower for asthma patients.
But a study led by a Duke University medical school professor also found that, while the higher prices for asthma drugs could make them less effective, they would also reduce the need for expensive medications for patients with asthma.
“In the short term, the cost savings to the insurance companies would not be as large as the cost reductions from a merger, because people who get less expensive asthma drugs will still need to take them,” said Matthew Hirsch, a professor of pharmacy and a co-author of the study.
The findings also showed that the higher the price for a generic version of a drug, the less likely it would be that a doctor would prescribe the generic version.
The lower the price, the higher that price would be for patients to pay.
The average cost per medication prescribed for asthma was $2,800 for people with the lowest lung disease risk factor, $5,300 for people in the highest lung disease group and $8,300 per person in the lowest.
The difference in cost per prescription was greater for people diagnosed with diabetes, asthma and COPD, which each had a significantly higher cost per person.
The authors of the Science Advings