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FACT CHECK: Republican Campaign Of Lies On Drug Pricing Reform Fueled By Pharma Contributions

By November 12, 2021No Comments

As Democrats are set to pass the Build Back Better Act next week, Republican lawmakers are fighting to block its most popular provision: giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower prescription drug prices. A closer look at campaign contributions reveals these GOP lawmakers are deeply tied to big drug companies, which explains why Republicans are spreading lies and trying to mislead the American people. In reality, voters across the political spectrum are demanding action to reign in Big Pharma’s greed and lower drug prices now. 

Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy: “Democrats are working overtime to eliminate innovation in new drugs and therapeutics and to allow Washington bureaucrats to decide which drugs seniors can take.” [11/5/21]

FACT CHECK: Medicare drug price negotiation included in the Build Back Better Act allows the federal government to establish fair prices with drug makers, not decide what medications Medicare beneficiaries can and cannot access. A 2017 report from the National Academies of Medicine on lowering costs and protecting innovation concluded, “drugs that are not affordable are of little value.” Build Back Better works to ensure Americans have access to the medications they need at prices they can afford. 

PHARMA INFLUENCE: Rep. Kevin McCarthy was the number one recipient of contributions from the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry in 2020, receiving $242,353 in contributions.

House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik: “Under Pelosi’s plan, these companies would be forced to cut research and design spending on new drugs, leading to fewer cures and lifesaving breakthroughs for individuals and families most in need of hope.” [6/4/21]

FACT CHECK: Deciding between lowering drug prices and ensuring innovation is a false choice. Between 2016 and 2020, 14 leading drugmakers spent $577 billion on stock buybacks and dividends—$56 billion more than what was invested in research and development over the same period. One company, Amgen, spent nearly six times more on executive pay, buybacks, and dividends than it did on research and development in 2018. 

PHARMA INFLUENCE: In the 2020 election cycle, Rep. Elise Stefanik received $67,956 from the pharmaceutical/health products industry. She has received an additional $6,043 for the 2022 cycle.

Energy & Commerce Ranking Member Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers: “More federal command and control over our health care will lead to less innovation [and] fewer cures.” [10/19/21]

FACT CHECK: Research has demonstrated that impacts from lowering drug prices can be successfully mitigated by large pharmaceutical companies reducing their spending on things like stock buybacks and dividends. This is not a make or break issue for the pharmaceutical industry. Drug companies could lose $1 trillion in sales, while maintaining research developments, and still be the most profitable industry, because pharmaceutical companies enjoy profit margins nearly three times the average for the S&P 500. Between 2000 and 2018, 35 large drug companies raked in a combined revenue of $11.5 trillion with a gross profit of $8.6 trillion — far more than other large companies. 

PHARMA INFLUENCE: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers has received nearly $60,000 from the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry so far in the 2022 election cycle. Rep. McMorris Rodgers is the number one Republican recipient of contributions from the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry in the 2022 election cycle. So far their contributions have totaled $57,760.

Rep. Devin Nunes: “The Democrats… say that to bring [down] the cost of drugs, we have to take back government control of prices. That we must sacrifice our world-leading innovation in treatments and cures to lower costs at the pharmacy counter for seniors.” [10/14/21]

FACT CHECK: Major drug companies often outsource research and development. A 2019 analysis from Stat found a majority of top-selling drugs from two of the largest drug companies — Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson — were discovered and developed by third parties, such as universities and academic centers. These findings suggest that “a reduction in pharmaceutical revenues would not have the supposed devastating impact on the level of biopharmaceutical innovation.” 

PHARMA INFLUENCE: In the 2020 election cycle, Rep. Devin Nunes received $121,283 in total contributions from the pharmaceutical/health products industry. He has received an additional $16,722 for the 2022 election cycle so far. 

Sen. Tim Scott: “From curing rare diseases to increasing life spans by many years, recent medical advancements have been nothing short of miraculous for seniors and other at-risk populations. Handing over drug pricing to the federal government would halt that positive momentum and put life saving medications further out of reach for too many Americans.” [10/1/21]

FACT CHECK: Time and again, drug companies hike the prices of drugs without any added benefit to patients. According to Patients for Affordable Drugs, a vial of band name insulin costs about $4 to make but costs $270 and one capsule of the cancer drug Revlimid costs less than a dollar to make but sells for $833. 

PHARMA INFLUENCE: The pharmaceutical industry has donated $270,773 to Sen. Tim Scott for the 2022 election cycle. In his career since 2009, Sen. Tim Scott has received nearly $750,000 from the pharmaceutical industry.