Who would have thought that a blog posted on Texas Enterprise in March could earn a person an invitation to testify before Congress in November? Certainly not me, but that’s just what happened. Two days ago, I was one of 5 witnesses to testify before the Subcommittee on Healthcare, District of Columbia, Census, and the National Archives. This is a subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Click here  to see the Agenda and testimony.
The goal of the hearing was to focus on understanding the drug shortage crisis, and in particular any impact that price controls or price inflexibility may be having on the problem. Lucky for me, this was the thesis of the blog I had posted in March; it just so happened that I was one of the first people to identify economics as a prime suspect as well as call out the specific piece of legislation exacerbating the shortage. To see that blog, click here .
Like most blogs, this one was read and received some comments, but in addition, this blog caught the attention of the oncology community at an opportune time. Drug shortages were impacting patient care, some of the drugs in shortage have no substitutes; without them lives were at stake. Imagine having to tell a patient he or she has cancer and it is curable. Then imagine telling the patient that you are not sure you will be able to obtain some of the low-cost drugs necessary for treatment because they are in shortage. In May, I received an email from the CEO of the American Society of Clinical Oncology asking to discuss the issue. He introduced me to other influential health policy experts like Ezekiel Emmanuel who wrote about this issue in the New York Times. To read his op-ed, click here .
Prior to my blog, experts in Washington and elsewhere believed that the increased shortages were being caused by manufacturing quality and capacity issues and challenges in obtaining raw materials. Because I had worked in industry, I had a different hypothesis, and my blog supported it with evidence.
Blogs with ideas are nice, but blogs with ideas and well-supported evidence get noticed. In early November, Congress called, and invited me to testify.
In my next blog, I’ll share what I learned about testifying and offer some impressions on how Washington works.