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drug prices Archives — Protect Our Care

Defiant Drug Company CEOs Offer Up the Same Old Excuses and No Answers for Their Massive Price Hikes

Washington, DC — Today, the CEOs and top executives from seven of the largest drug companies testified before the Senate Finance Committee. The big drug companies have seen billions in profits while Americans have seen the costs of their medications soar. They reaped billions of dollars from the Trump tax scam bill and used it for stock buybacks, enriching their already wealthy investors and CEOs. Headline after headline demonstrates that drug companies are jacking up the prices of vital medications, proving that their commitment to freeze drug prices last year was all political posturing.

Merck’s Ken Frazier admitted as much in the hearing stating, “We have lowered list prices in the past and found it creates a financial disadvantage for the company and it doesn’t get us more volume because of the incentives in the system.”

“The American people deserve answers from these CEOs but instead today they got the same old excuses,” said Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care. “It’s crystal clear that these drug companies won’t follow through on their rhetoric about making prescription drugs more affordable for the American people because it would cut into their record profits.  Senator Menendez said today that if drug companies don’t take meaningful action on their own to reduce prices then policy makers will do it for them. After today’s pathetic display by drug company executives the time for policy makers to act has clearly arrived.”

Background:

Watch Senator Menendez question CEOs on the Trump tax scam here.

Big Drug Companies Raked in Billions of Profits Last Year and Paid Their CEOs Millions…

Pharmaceutical Company2018 Profit ($ Billion)Stock Buybacks Since the 2017 GOP Tax Cut[1]CEOCEO Pay[2]Ratio of CEO Compensation to Median Employee Salary[3]
Pfizer$11.1[4]$10 billionAlbert Bourla$27.9 million313:1
Merck$6.22[5]$10 billionKen Frazier$17.6 million215:1
Johnson & Johnson$15.3[6]$5 billionAlex Gorsky$29.8 million452:1
Sanofi$4.9[7]Oliver Brandicourt$11.1 million[8]
Bristol-Meyers$4.9[9]$5 billion[10]Giovanni Caforio$18.7 million169:1
AbbVie$5.7[11]$15 billionRick Gonzalez$22.6 million144:1
AstraZeneca$2.2[12]Pascal Soriot$12.3 million[13]

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot Complained That Despite His $12 Million Salary He Was “The Lowest Paid CEO In The Whole Industry” Which Was “Annoying To Some Extent.” “Soriot, who heads AstraZeneca, has a penchant for going off message — and making headlines when he does…he groused to a reporter at London’s The Times earlier this year that despite his $12 million salary he was ‘the lowest-paid CEO in the whole industry,’ which he added was ‘annoying to some extent.’” [Stat, 2/21/19]

…All While Raising Prices on 1,000 Drugs for YOU

Nearly 30 Pharmaceutical Companies Are Raising Prices on Consumers This Year Alone.Pharmaceutical companies continue to increase prices. In January 2019 alone, drugmakers raised prices on nearly 490 prescription drugs. Johnson & Johnson raised prices on around two dozen drugs, and Pfizer and Novartis announced price increases on dozens of drugs, including increasing the cost of a breast cancer medication to $12,000 for 21 pills. All in all, nearly 30 drugmakers are expected to raise prices in 2019. 

CBS News: “Big Pharma ushers in new year by raising prices of more than 1,000 drugs” [CBS News, 1/2/19]

Reuters: “Big Pharma returning to U.S. price hikes in January after pause” [Reuters, 12/20/18]

Nostrum CEO Mulye: “I Think It Is A Moral Requirement to Make Money When You Can .. To Sell The Product For The Highest Price.” “Last month, Nostrum Laboratories, a small Missouri-based drugmaker, more than quadrupled the price of a bottle of nitrofurantoin from $474.75 to $2,392, according to Elsevier’s Gold Standard drug database. Nitrofurantoin is an antibiotic used to treat bladder infections…In an interview, Nirmal Mulye, Nostrum chief executive, said he had priced the product according to market dynamics, adding: “I think it is a moral requirement to make money when you can . . . to sell the product for the highest price.” [Financial Times, 9/11/18]

Mylan Chairman Coury Responds to Critics After Mylan Charged More Than $600 per Box of the EpiPen When It Only Contained $1 Worth of Ephinephrine: They Ought to Go Copulate with Themselves. “In meetings, the executives began warning Mylan’s top leaders that the price increases seemed like unethical profiteering at the expense of sick children and adults, according to people who participated in the conversations…At one gathering, executives shared their concerns with Mylan’s chairman, Robert Coury. Mr. Coury replied that he was untroubled. He raised both his middle fingers and explained, using colorful language, that anyone criticizing Mylan, including its employees, ought to go copulate with themselves.” [New York Times, 6/4/17]

In 2017, the FDA approved Marathon Pharmaceuticals’ request to charge $89,000 for a drug, a 6,000% price increase. “A drug company has brought a drug that has been available as a generic elsewhere in the world for decades at a shockingly inflated price…Yet a pharmaceutical company in Deerfield, Ill., has gotten approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to sell deflazacort (snazzy brand name: Emflaza). The company, Marathon Pharmaceuticals, is charging a list price of $89,000 – a 6,000% price increase.” [Forbes, 2/10/17]

In 2015, Martin Shkreli hiked the price of a life saving drug by 5,000% overnight, from $13.50 a pill to $750, when it reportedly only cost $1 to make. “Shkreli, a former hedge fund manager and entrepreneur, earned his unflattering nickname by raising the cost of the drug from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill. After a Bloomberg reporter suggested it cost around $1 to make, Shkreli acknowledged the drug cost ‘very little money’ to make.” [HuffPost, 3/9/18]

Meanwhile, Drug Companies Reaped Billions from The GOP Tax Cut

Pharmaceutical Companies Have Reaped Billions Of Dollars From The Trump Tax Bill. The Trump tax scam means billions of dollars in tax breaks for pharmaceutical companies. An Axios study found that 21 health care companies collectively expect to gain $10 billion in tax savings during 2018 alone. [Axios, 3/5/18]

Since 2017, Pharmaceutical Companies Have Announced $73 Billion in Share Buybacks.“Collectively, drug companies have announced nearly $73 billion in share buybacks since the tax law passed in December 2017, according to Americans for Tax Fairness. Stock buybacks mostly enrich the already wealthy, including CEOs: the wealthiest 10% of American households own 84% of all corporate shares, the top 1% own 40%. About one-half of households own no stock.” [Americans for Tax Fairness, 1/8/19]

Don’t Be Fooled: Big Drug Companies Promises to Lower Costs are “Nothing-Burger Steps”

Pharmaceutical Company Lobbyist On So-Called Concessions to the Trump Administration: They Are a “Calculated Risk” And “Nothing-Burger Steps.” “The gestures turned out to be largely symbolic — efforts to beat Trump at his own game by giving him headlines he wants without making substantive changes in how they do business. The token concessions are ‘a calculated risk,” said one drug lobbyist. ‘Take these nothing-burger steps and give the administration things they can take credit for.’” [Politico, 8/3/18]

Trump’s Proposals Always Fall Far Short Of His Promises. President Trump promised that he would allow Medicare to use its buying power to negotiate drug prices directly with suppliers, but after meeting with pharmaceutical executives early in 2017, Trump abandoned that pledge, calling it “price fixing” that would hurt “smaller, younger companies.” The planned announcement to move some drugs from Medicare Part B, in which pharmaceuticals are purchased and administered by medical providers, to Part D, will do little to restrain the cost of prescription drugs for America’s seniors and falls far short of Trump’s promises.

[1] Americans For Tax Fairness, 1/8/19

[2] Data for FY2017, Bloomberg, 2/22/19

[3] Data for FY2017, Bloomberg, 2/22/19

[4] Pfizer Fourth Quarter And Full Year 2018  Results,” Pfizer, 1/29/19

[5] SFGate, 2/5/19

[6] 2018 Fourth Quarter Results, Johnson & Johnson, 1/22/19

[7] Converted from 4.3 billion euro; The Pharma Letter, 2/7/19

[8] Converted from 9.8 million euro for FY2017; Bloomberg, Accessed 2/22/19

[9]  Fourth Quarter And Full Year Financial Results, Bristol-Myers Squibb, 1/24/19

[10] “Bristol-Myers Squibb expects to execute an accelerated share repurchase program of up to approximately $5 billion, subject to the closing of the transaction, market conditions and Board approval,” Bristol-Myers Squibb, 1/3/19

[11]Fourth Quarter And Full Year 2018 Results, Abbvie, 1/25/19

[12] Market Screener, Accessed 2/22/19

[13] Converted from 9.4 million GBP for FY2017; Bloomberg, Accessed 2/22/19


Costs Up, Coverage Down: The Real HHS 2018 Annual Report

Washington, DC — Today, as HHS released its 2018 annual report and Secretary Azar gave a speech on drug pricing, one thing has become clear: the Trump administration does not want the American people to know the real impact of its war on health care — higher costs and less coverage. Leslie Dach, chair of Protect Our Care, issued a statement in response to Azar’s claims in his speech:

“While Secretary Azar is attempting to tout his record at HSS, Americans are suffering from the truth. The administration is  is hiding the real impact of its agenda: drug prices are going up, drug companies are enjoying massive tax giveaways, millions no longer have health insurance because of the administration’s sabotage campaign, and protections for pre-existing conditions are under attack. The claim that President Trump and Secretary Azar’s HHS improved America’s health care is ludicrous. The real story is that costs went up, coverage went down, and the American people lost out.”

Despite what’s in their annual report, we know what their record is:

  1. Drug companies continue to increase prices while reaping billions of dollars from the Trump tax bill and seeing massive profits. The Trump tax scam means billions of dollars in tax breaks for pharmaceutical companies. An Axios study found that 21 health care companies collectively expect to gain $10 billion in tax savings during 2018 alone. Most of the tax break windfall for health care companies is going toward share buybacks, dividends, acquisitions and paying down debt. Pharmaceutical companies raked in more than $30 billion in profits in the third quarter of 2018, with Pfizer alone bringing in $4.1 billion — the highest of any publicly traded health care company.  Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies continue to increase prices. In January 2019 alone, Pfizer and Novartis announced price increases on dozens of drugs, including increasing the cost of a breast cancer medication to $12,000 for 21 pills. All in all, nearly 30 drugmakers are expected to raise prices in 2019. One drug industry lobbyist has said that drug companies’ limited concessions are “a calculated risk” summarizing big pharma’s strategy to play the Trump administration: “take these nothing-burger steps and give the administration things they can take credit for.”

  1. Under Trump, the uninsured rate has risen to its highest levels since the Affordable Care Act took effect. Gallup’s quarterly health survey reveals that the uninsured rate has risen to the highest rate since the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion was completed, leaping from 10.8 percent in 2016 to 13.7 percent in 2018 and representing about 7 million more Americans who are now uninsured. A major reason for this increase? Trump’s relentless health care sabotage. Among the factors contributing to this uninsured rate, Gallup cited increased premiums, major cuts to outreach funding and open enrollment, slashed funding to health care navigator groups, and Trump’s hostility to the ACA.
  2. Sec. Azar and the Trump administration have expanded access to junk plans that are allowed to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. In August, the Trump administration finalized a rule that allows consumers to purchase junk plans with an expanded duration of 364 days, as opposed to the the previously allowed maximum of three months, and renew such plans for up to three years. Since finalizing the rule, the Trump administration has urged navigator groups that help people sign up for coverage to push consumers toward junk plans and has issued guidance urging states to let ACA subsidies be used to purchase these skimpy plans. Junk plans are notoriously ripe for fraud, drive up health care premiums, leave consumers with worse coverage and at risk for bankruptcy.
  3. The Trump administration’s health care sabotage means Americans are paying more for premiums than they should. While Azar tries to claim that premiums have stabilized under him, health care analyst Charles Gaba has found that marketplace premiums are roughly 8 percent higher than they would be absent GOP sabotage. With GOP sabotage, premiums increased 2.8 percent in 2019. Absent such sabotage, premiums would have decreased 5.37 percent.
  4. The Trump administration has encouraged states to impose onerous Medicaid work requirements designed to kick people off of their health coverage — so far, more than 18,000 have lost coverage in Arkansas alone. In 2017, the Trump administration encouraged states to adopt policies that make it harder for people to access health care through Medicaid. One such way is by requiring Medicaid enrollees to work in order to maintain health coverage through Medicaid. So far, the Trump administration has approved waivers in seven states — AZ, AR, IN, KY, MI, MS, and WI — that will prevent people from being covered through Medicaid unless they meet restrictive requirements. Similar waivers are pending in eight states: AL, OH, OK, SD, TN, UT, and VA. Already, more than 18,000 Arkansans have lost coverage because of these burdensome requirements.
  5. Secretary Azar and the Trump administration have engaged in a years-long effort designed to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, going so far as to argue in court that protections for people with pre-existing conditions should be overturned. Trump along with Republican attorneys general and governors have already sued to try to overturn our health care laws in the Texas lawsuit. Just several weeks ago, President Trump boasted that the Affordable Care Act and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions would be “terminated” through the case. A complete list of the administration’s sabotage efforts is below and can be found in our health care sabotage tracker:

February 2019

  • Trump predicts the Affordable Care Act will be “terminated” through the Texas lawsuit seeking to overturn the law.
  • In an effort to restrict access to information about women’s reproductive health, the Trump administration removes web pages associated with the ACA and its contraceptive coverage from HHS’s Office of Population Affairs website.

January 2019

  • Thanks to GOP sabotage, the uninsured rate surges to the its highest level since 2014. Roughly seven million fewer people are estimated to have health care now than did two years ago.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposes changes to the ACA’s benefit and payment parameters, reducing subsidies available to those who purchase health care through the exchange, increasing premiums, and raising  the out-of-pocket maximum for people with employer-sponsored health care.
  • In a win for big Pharma, the Trump administration proposes changes to the rebate system that would raise premiums, benefit pharmaceutical companies, and contain no mandate to lower list prices of drugs.

December 2018

  • Hand-picked Federal Judge Reed O’Connor rules in favor of twenty conservative states to overturn the Affordable Care Act, jeopardizing coverage for 17 million people and ripping away the ACA’s vital consumer protections such as protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
  • Under the Trump administration’s relentless sabotage, the uninsured rate increases for the first time since 2010. As the Kaiser Family Foundation finds, “In 2017, the uninsured rate reversed course and, for the first time since the passage of the ACA, rose significantly to 10.2% [from 10%].”

November 2018

  • Trump administration issues new guidance urging states to “tear down basic pillars of the Affordable Care Act, demolishing a basic rule” that federal subsidies can only be used to purchase ACA-compliant plans. Experts warn against this move, saying it will push affordable, comprehensive care further out of reach for individuals with pre-existing conditions.
  • Under the Trump administration, the number of uninsured children grows for the first time in nearly a decade. After a decade of steady decreases in the number of uninsured children, in 2017 the number of uninsured children increased from 3.6 million to 3.9 million.

October 2018

  • Republicans appoint Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh is known to be hostile to the Affordable Care Act.
  • The Trump administration issues guidance that allows federal subsidies to be used to purchase junk plans that can deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

September 2018

  • The Trump administration’s Department of Justice joins twenty conservative states in court in opening arguments to argue that the Affordable Care Act’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions should be overturned.
  • Nearly 4,600 Arkansans are unable to meet Arkansas’ reporting requirements for the state’s Medicaid work requirements and lose Medicaid coverage.

August 2018

  • Trump administration finalizes rule for bare-bones short-term plans that are exempt from key consumer protections, such as the requirement that insurance covers prescription drugs, maternity care, and hospitalization.

July 2018

  • CMS halts risk adjustment payments, that enable insurance companies to cover everyone, regardless of whether they are healthy or sick.
  • Trump Administration slashes funding for non-profit health navigator groups, that help people shop for coverage, from $36 million to $10 million. CMS encourages groups to use the remaining funds to push people to sign up for junk plans that skirt important consumer protections.
  • President Trump nominates Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh has previously forced a young woman to continue a pregnancy against her will and has criticized Justice Roberts for upholding the Affordable Care Act’s constitutionality.

June 2018

  • Department of Justice takes to the courts to argue that insurance companies should be able to discriminate against as many as 130 million Americans with a pre-existing condition.
  • Republican coalition, the Health Policy Consensus Group, released their latest proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions, let insurance companies charge older people an age tax, and deny key coverage for basic services like maternity care.
  • Trump Administration finalizes proposal to expand access to association health plans that skirt key consumer protections.

May 2018

  • President Trump boasts about health care sabotage: “We will have gotten rid of a majority of Obamacare.”
  • Trump Administration enlists help of former drug lobbyist in writing its drug plan.
  • Congressional Republicans try to use annual farm bill to authorize $65 million in taxpayer funding to set up association health plans, which can  exclude prescription drug coverage, mental health care, and maternity care.

April 2018

  • House Republicans vote on a balanced budget amendment that would cut Medicaid by $700 billion over ten years, $114 billion in a single year alone.
  • Trump Administration limits access to assistance for consumers who want to enroll in marketplace coverage. This change removes the requirement that every area has at least two “navigator” groups to provide consumer assistance and that one be local. Now, just one group could cover entire states or groups of states.

March 2018

  • Republicans sabotage efforts to pass a bipartisan bill that would have stabilized Affordable Care Act marketplaces by insisting the bill restrict access to abortion.

February 2018

  • The Trump Administration announces that it will expand access to short-term health plans that do not have to comply with key consumer protection provisions required by the Affordable Care Act.
  • Urban Institute calculates that repeal of the individual mandate and expansion of short term plans will increase individual market premiums by an average 18.2 percent in 2019.
  • Trump Administration releases budget that calls for the Affordable Care Act to be replaced by Graham-Cassidy, in a move that experts predict would reduce health coverage for 32 million Americans.

January 2018

  • The Trump Administration announces that it will support states that impose onerous work requirements on Americans covered by Medicaid, and approves Kentucky’s worst-in-the-nation waiver the next day.
  • The Trump Administration announces a move to allow providers to discriminate by allowing them to deny patient care for almost any reason.
  • The Trump Administration makes plans to announce even more exemptions from the requirement people have health coverage before this provision is repealed altogether.

December 2017

  • The Trump Administration proposes a rule to expand association health plans, which would gut consumer protections, raise costs for people with pre-existing conditions and further destabilize the insurance markets.
  • Congressional Republicans pass their tax scam, which doubles as a sneaky repeal of the Affordable Care Act  by kicking 13 million people off of their insurance and raising premiums by double digits for millions more.

November 2017

  • Republicans refuse to move forward on the bipartisan Alexander-Murray bill to address the CSR crisis even though it had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

October 2017

  • The Trump Administration takes direct aim at birth control by rolling back a rule that guaranteed women access to contraception. (A court has since questioned the legality of the action.)
  • President Trump signs an Executive Order to roll back key consumer protections that will result in garbage insurance, raise premiums, reduce coverage and again expose millions of Americans to discrimination based on pre-existing conditions.
  • The Trump Administration dramatically cuts in-person assistance to help people sign up for 2018 health coverage.
  • After threatening for months to stop funding cost-sharing reduction payments (CSRs) that help lower deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, the Trump Administration stops the payments altogether. The CBO finds that failing to make these payments will increase premiums by 20% and add nearly $200 billion to the debt.

September 2017

  • The Administration orders the Department of Health and Human Services’ regional directors to stop participating in Open Enrollment events. Mississippi Health Advocacy Program Executive Director Roy Mitchell says, “I didn’t call it sabotage…But that’s what it is.”

August 2017

  • The Administration cuts the outreach advertising budget for Open Enrollment by 90 percent, from $100 million to just $10 million – which resulted in as many as 1.1 million fewer people getting covered.

July 2017

  • The Trump Administration uses funding intended to support health insurance enrollment to launch a multimedia propaganda campaign against the Affordable Care Act.
  • President Trump, again, threatens to end cost-sharing reduction payments.

June 2017

  • Senate Republicans embark on a monthslong failed attempt to pass BCRA, Skinny Repeal and Graham-Cassidy, all repeal bills that would have caused millions of Americans to lose their health coverage and raised premiums by double digits for millions more. They would have ended Medicaid as we know it, putting the care of children, seniors and people with disabilities at risk.

May 2017

  • House Republicans vote for and pass a health care repeal bill that would cause 23 million people to lose coverage and gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions. It would have imposed an age tax and allowed insurers to charge people over 50 five times more for coverage and ended Medicaid as we know it, putting the care of seniors, children and people with disabilities in jeopardy.

April 2017

  • The Trump Administration cuts the number of days people could sign up for coverage during open enrollment by half, from 90 days to 45 days.
  • In an effort to convince Democrats to negotiate a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, President Trump threatens to cut off cost-sharing reduction payments (CSRs) that help low-income marketplace customers pay for out-of-pocket costs.

March 2017

  • The Trump Administration sends a letter to governors encouraging them to submit proposals which include provisions such as work requirements that make it harder for Medicaid beneficiaries to get affordable care and increase the number of people who are uninsured.

February 2017

  • The Trump Administration proposes a rule to weaken Marketplace coverage and raise premiums for millions of middle-class families.

January 2017

  • On his first day in office, President Trump signs an Executive Order directing the administration to identify every way it can unravel the Affordable Care Act.
  • Also on January 20th, the Department of Health and Human Services begins to remove information on how to sign up for the Affordable Care Act.
  • The Trump Administration pulls funding for outreach and advertising for the final days of 2017 enrollment. This move is estimated to have reduced enrollment by nearly 500,000.

Cost Of Care: Trump Administration Rigs System To Make Drug Companies Even Richer While Americans Pay More

Today, the “Health Care Congress” continues to respond to the will of the voters with a House Ways & Means hearing on the Cost of Rising Prescription Drug Prices. While President Trump repeatedly promises to lower the cost of prescription drugs, Republicans are protecting the rigged system for the drug companies, allowing insurance companies to deny drug coverage to people, and rewarding the drug companies, instead.

Republicans and the Trump administration did do one thing on this issue: America’s largest pharmaceutical companies got a huge huge tax break from the Trump Tax bill and are lining the pockets of shareholders and CEOs while continuing to raise prices for everyday Americans.

The Trump Administration’s Talk is Cheap, But Drug Prices Aren’t…

Health care is prohibitively expensive for many Americans, causing many who have insurance to skip or delay care and prohibiting many who lack insurance from signing up for care.

  • A Protect Our Care poll found that 84 percent of Americans support requiring drug companies to notify the government in advance when they plan to significantly raise drug prices and create a mechanism to identify and stop unjustified increases; 82 percent support allowing Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies to get lower prices on prescription drugs.
  • 15.5 percent of those who have insurance either skipped or delayed care because of cost or trouble paying bills in 2017.
  • Roughly one in four, or 26.2 percent of non-elderly people struggle with insurance affordability problems.
  • Cost is of particular concern to those in fair or poor health — 46.5 percent of those in fair or poor health are uninsured or have problems affording care despite having coverage. This includes 13.5 percent who are uninsured and 32.9 percent who have insurance but had a problem affording care in the last year.
  • Cost is the most cited reason for being uninsured — 45 percent of uninsured nonelderly adults in 2017 said they were uninsured because the cost is too high.

Americans pay more for drugs than do people in any other country. At $1,208 per capita, people in the U.S. spend more on pharmaceuticals per capita than do people in any other country in the world. British researchers found that U.S. prices were consistently higher than in other European markets, six times higher than in Brazil, and 16 times higher than in the lowest-price country, which was usually India.

Drug Prices Continue to Soar Under Trump. A report by Senate Democrats finds that the prices of the 20 most-prescribed drugs under Medicare Part D have increased substantially over the past five years, rising 10 times faster than inflation. Another report from the Pharmacy Benefits Consultants finds that over the past 14 months, 20 prescription drugs saw list-price increases of more than 200 percent.

Drug companies are engaging in the dangerous practice of price-gouging — pursuing massive profits to the detriment of people who need their medication to survive. In September 2018, Nostrum chief executive Nirmal Mulye defended his choice to raise the price of an antibiotic from $474.75 to $2,392 a bottle, saying he had “moral requirement…to sell the product for the highest price.” In 2017, Mylan, the company that made the EpiPen, came under fire for charging $609 for a box of two devices even though each only contained about $1 worth of the drug epinephrine. Between 2012 and 2016, the price of insulin, which 7.5 million Americans depend on, nearly doubled from $344 to $666.

…Pharmaceutical Companies Are Raking It In…

Pharmaceutical Companies Have Reaped Huge Benefits From The Trump Tax Bill. The Trump tax scam means billions of dollars in tax breaks for pharmaceutical companies. An Axios study found that 21 health care companies collectively expect to gain $10 billion in tax savings during 2018 alone. Most of the tax break windfall for health care companies is going toward share buybacks, dividends, acquisitions and paying down debt. According to Axios, nine pharmaceutical companies are are spending a combined $50 billion on new share buyback programs. All of the buybacks were announced during or after passage of the tax bill. Some drug companies are also increasing dividends for shareholders, with AbbVie increasing its cash dividend by 35 percent while also announcing a new $10 billion share repurchase program.

Massive Profits And Price Increases. Pharmaceutical companies raked in more than $30 billion in profits in the third quarter of 2018, with Pfizer alone bringing in $4.1 billion — the highest of any publicly traded health care company. Of the 19 companies that tallied at least $1 billion of third-quarter profit, 14 were drug companies.  Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies continue to increase prices. In January 2019 alone, Pfizer and Novartis announced price increases on dozens of drugs, including increasing the cost of a breast cancer medication to $12,000 for 21 pills.  All in all, nearly 30 drugmakers are expected to raise prices in 2019.  

Soaring CEO Pay. According to an Axios study, the CEOs of 70 of the largest U.S. health care companies cumulatively have earned $9.8 billion since 2010. CEOs took home nearly 11 percent more money on average every year since 2010 — far more than the wage growth of nearly all other workers. In 2017 alone, 30 health care executives made a combined $976 million.

…And Republicans Are Making it Worse

Republicans refuse to let Medicare negotiate for lower drug prices. Though 92 percent of Americans support allowing the federal government to negotiate drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries, Republicans refuse to let Medicare negotiate drug prices. A 2018 Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Democratic Committee report found that Medicare Part D could save $2.8 billion in a single year if it were allowed to negotiate drug prices.

Trump Installed Big Pharma Executives In Key Administration Posts. President Trump installed a former Eli Lily executive, Alex Azar, as his secretary of Health and Human Services and his appointment of Scott Gottlieb at FDA was described as “music to pharma’s ears.” Other pharma lobbyists writing Trump’s health policy include senior adviser at FDA, Keagan Lenihan, who joined the administration after lobbying for the drug distribution giant McKesson, former Gilead lobbyist, Joe Grogan, who reviews health care regulations at the Office of Management and Budget, and Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy Lance Leggitt, who has lobbied for a variety of drug-industry clients.

Trump’s Proposals Always Fall Far Short Of His Promises. President Trump promised that he would allow Medicare to use its buying power to negotiate drug prices directly with suppliers, but after meeting with pharmaceutical executives early in 2017, Trump abandoned that pledge, calling it “price fixing” that would hurt “smaller, younger companies.” The planned announcement to move some drugs from Medicare Part B, in which pharmaceuticals are purchased and administered by medical providers, to Part D, will do little to restrain the cost of prescription drugs for America’s seniors and falls far short of Trump’s promises.

Because Washington Republicans Repealed The Requirement That Most People Have Insurance And Encouraged People To Sign Up For Junk Plans, 2019 Premiums Are Higher Than They Should Be. Charles Gaba, health care analyst, calculates that individual marketplace premiums are increasing by an average of 2.8 percent nationally. However, Gaba estimates that if not for Republican sabotage, premiums would decrease by an average of 5.4 percent.

The Administration Has Consistently Advocated For The Repeal Of The Affordable Care Act, Including Eliminating The Requirement That Insurance Companies Cover Prescription Drugs. After the Trump administration tried and failed to repeal the ACA legislatively, it took to the courts in hopes of eliminating the health law. In 2018, the Justice Department decided not to defend the Affordable Care Act in court against a lawsuit seeking to overturn it. Since, a federal judge has ruled to overturn the law, including its requirement that insurance companies cover patients’ prescription drugs.

State of Broken Promises: Trump’s Talk is Cheap, but Prescription Drug Prices Aren’t

Washington DC — If past is prologue, tonight President Trump will once again pay lip service to rein in the high cost of prescription drugs, just as he did in last year’s State of the Union address. If the past year proves anything, it’s that President Trump’s talk is cheap but prescription drug prices remain sky high. Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement in anticipation of more broken promises from Trump tonight on prescription drugs:

“One year ago, Donald Trump promised the American people he would ‘substantially’ lower prescription drugs prices and threw the gauntlet down by adding emphatically ‘watch.’ We did watch, Mr. President, and a year later prescription drug prices are still sky high. The president continues to renege on his campaign promise to allow Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices, and his administration has put forward a plan on rebates that has been called a gift to Big Pharma. The only ‘substantial’ thing this President has done on health care in the last year is to engage in a relentless war on American health care administratively, in Congress, and in the courts. And if anyone believes some teleprompter-delivered promise from President Trump tonight on reducing the cost of prescription drugs, send them my way: I have some beachfront property in Arizona for sale.”

THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IS ALL TALK ON DRUG PRICES, BUT NO ACTION:

Drug Prices Continue to Soar Under Trump. A report by Senate Democrats finds that the prices of the 20 most-prescribed drugs under Medicare Part D have increased substantially over the past five years, rising 10 times faster than inflation. Another report from the Pharmacy Benefits Consultants finds that drug prices soared over the first 14 months of Trump’s presidency, during which 20 prescription drugs saw list-price increases of more than 200 percent. In 2018, there were about 1,800 prescription drug price increases according to data compiled by 46brooklyn Research. This year already, Pharma giants Pfizer and Novartis have raised prices on dozens of drug.

Trump Installed Big Pharma Executives In Key Administration Posts. President Trump installed a former Eli Lily executive, Alex Azar, as his secretary of Health and Human Services and his appointment of Scott Gottlieb at FDA was described as “music to pharma’s ears.” Other pharma lobbyists writing Trump’s health policy include senior adviser at FDA, Keagan Lenihan, who joined the administration after lobbying for the drug distribution giant McKesson, former Gilead lobbyist, Joe Grogan, who reviews health care regulations at the Office of Management and Budget, and Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy Lance Leggitt, who has lobbied for a variety of drug-industry clients.

Trump’s Proposals Always Fall Far Short Of His Promises. President Trump promised that he would allow Medicare to use its buying power to negotiate drug prices directly with suppliers, but after meeting with pharmaceutical executives early in 2017, Trump abandoned that pledge, calling it “price fixing” that would hurt “smaller, younger companies.” The planned announcement to move some drugs from Medicare Part B, in which pharmaceuticals are purchased and administered by medical providers, to Part D, will do little to restrain the cost of prescription drugs for America’s seniors and falls far short of Trump’s promises.

Republican Health Care Sabotage Makes Prescription Drugs More Expensive For Millions. The Trump Administration wants to let states sell junky short-term health plans that skirt Affordable Care Act requirements. Typical short-term policies do not cover prescription drugs or maternity care, mental health care, preventive care, and other essential benefits. Not only that, but short term plans result in higher costs for people enrolled in full coverage plans as well as soaring premiums.

… WHILE PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES ARE RAKING IT IN

Pharmaceutical Companies Have Reaped Huge Benefits From The Trump Tax Bill. The Trump tax scam means billions of dollars in tax breaks for pharmaceutical companies. An Axios study found that 21 health care companies collectively expect to gain $10 billion in tax savings during 2018 alone. Most of the tax break windfall for health care companies is going toward share buybacks, dividends, acquisitions and paying down debt. According to Axios, nine pharmaceutical companies are are spending a combined $50 billion on new share buyback programs. All of the buybacks were announced during or after passage of the tax bill. Some drug companies are also increasing dividends for shareholders, with AbbVie increasing its cash dividend by 35 percent while also announcing a new $10 billion share repurchase program.

Massive Profits And Price Increases. Pharmaceutical companies raked in more than $30 billion in profits in the third quarter of 2018, with Pfizer alone bringing in $4.1 billion — the highest of any publicly traded healthcare company. Of the 19 companies that tallied at least $1 billion of third-quarter profit, 14 were drug companies.  Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies continue to increase prices. In January 2019 alone, Pfizer and Novartis announced price increases on dozens of drugs, including increasing the cost of a breast cancer medication to $12,000 for 21 pills.  All in all, nearly 30 drugmakers are expected to raise prices in 2019.  

Soaring CEO Pay. According to an Axios study, the CEOs of 70 of the largest U.S. health care companies cumulatively have earned $9.8 billion since 2010. CEOs took home nearly 11 percent more money on average every year since 2010 — far more than the wage growth of nearly all other workers. In 2017 alone, 30 health care executives made a combined $976 million.

Shot/Chaser: Big Pharma Spends More On Lobbying Than Any Other Industry, Gets Rewarded With “Win” In Drug Rebate Proposal

Shot/Chaser: Big Pharma Spends More On Lobbying Than Any Other Industry, Gets Rewarded With “Win” In Drug Rebate Proposal

Big Pharma’s big spending in the last year is paying off with a new Trump administration proposal:

SHOT: Pharmaceutical Industry Spent More On Lobbying In 2018 Than Any Other Industry. Open Secrets issued a report showing that the pharmaceutical industry spent almost $280 million on lobbying in 2018, “with no other industry coming close” in terms of spending.

CHASER: “One Thing That Is Pretty Certain: Pharma Wins.” The Trump administration rolled out a new drug rebate proposal last Thursday, with Axios’ analysis concluding that it would just be another win for Big Pharma, with “no mandate to lower” drug prices for Americans.

New Trump Rule on Drug Rebates is Just a Gift to Big Pharma

Washington, DC– Yesterday, the Trump administration proposed a rule to the drug rebate system that they falsely claimed would help consumers and lower drug prices. Leslie Dach, chair of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement:

“This administration’s plan  – another multi-billion dollar giveaway to the big drug companies – will raise Medicare premiums with zero guarantees that it will lower costs for patients. Meanwhile, the administration opposes what really needs to happen — end drug company price gouging on everyday drugs like insulin that millions of Americans rely on, and let Medicare directly negotiate with drug companies to truly lower prices. With a former pharmaceutical executive running HHS, it’s no surprise the administration continues to side with big drug companies and ignore the needs of patients and older Americans.”

New Web Video: Time To Stand Up To Big Drug Companies

Yesterday, House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings kicked off the new Health Care Congress by taking a stand for Americans and standing up to the drug companies. Cummings explained that when these drug companies (some of the most powerful corporations in the world) raise prices suddenly, everyday Americans are “left holding the bill.” That’s why we proposed in our Health Care Agenda that Congress should end price gouging and lower prescription drug prices for all Americans. We look forward to working with this health care Congress as they fight to push our health care system in the right direction.

Watch Video Here:

 

 

Protect Our Care Statement on Today’s Ways & Means Committee Hearing On Pre-existing Conditions Protections

Washington DC — Today, the Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on Protecting Americans with Pre-existing Conditions. Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement in reaction to today’s committee hearing:

“We congratulate Chairman Neal and House Democrats for kicking off the Health Care Congress with the issue that brought them into the majority – affordable access to health care and, specifically, protecting people with pre-existing conditions from discrimination by insurance companies. It is heartening to hear so many members committed to maintaining and strengthening protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Today’s discussion sends a strong signal that House Democrats are focused on eliminating threats like junk plans and doing more to lower the cost of care for Americans. Voters put Democrats in the majority in the House to protect and improve their care.  Democrats understand they have a responsibility to deliver. If today’s hearing is any indication, they have every intention of doing so.”

Back To Business: Drug Prices Continue To Rise Under Trump

Washington, DC — Just days following the midterm elections that gave Democrats control of the House of Representatives, the Wall Street Journal reports that Pfizer will resume jacking up prices while the Trump administration continues its repeal-and-sabotage agenda. Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement in response:

“To no one’s surprise, now that the election is over, it’s back to business as usual for the drug companies, President Trump, and the Republicans who will allow them to charge consumers whatever they want for life-saving and sustaining prescription drugs. Not two weeks ago, voters delivered the House of Representatives to Democrats and elected scores of other Democrats to public office on the issue of health care — all in a repudiation of the Republicans’ repeal and sabotage agenda and their failure to do anything to address the high cost of prescription drugs.  Republicans might be living by the adage that they are going to dance with the one who brought them, but if they fail to work with the new Democratic majority in the House to address drug prices they may just be dancing their way out of office in two years time.”

 

BACKGROUND:

Wall Street Journal: Pfizer To Raise Prices On 41 Drugs In January. “Pfizer plans to raise the list prices of 41 of its prescription drugs, or 10 percent of its portfolio, in January, according to a person familiar with the matter. The plans mean Pfizer would resume its practice of raising drug list prices after the company rolled back some increases in July under criticism from President Trump.” [Wall Street Journal, 11/16/18]

Bloomberg: Pharma Earnings Reveal “Trump’s Most Visible Efforts To Strong-arm Them On Prices Hasn’t Caused Much Pain.” “Earnings are now in at most of the biggest pharmaceutical firms, and one thing is clear from their results: One of President Donald Trump’s most visible efforts to strong-arm them on prices hasn’t caused much pain. Pfizer Inc. was called out by Trump in a July tweet over mid-year price increases the drug giant pushed through on a number of its medicines, and the public shaming prompted the company to roll back the increases. That was followed by appeasement from other big pharma firms including Merck & Co., Novartis AG and Roche Holding AG. It’s been obvious from the start that these moves were cosmetic. Roche, for example, promised to forego further price increases this year only after it had already enacted hikes on some of its biggest sellers. But the earnings reports are further proof that efforts intended to mollify the president didn’t involve much if any sacrifice.” [Bloomberg, 10/31/18]

In October, Pfizer Announced That It Would Return To “Business As Normal,” Raising Prices Despite Trump Pressure. “Pfizer CEO Ian Read said the company will return to ‘business as normal’ on its drug pricing in January, after agreeing to hold off on price increases earlier this year following pressure from President Trump…Trump has touted his efforts to get drug companies to hold off on price increases. Fighting high drug prices has been a major focus of his presidency. Pfizer, though, affirmed on Tuesday that the price increases could return in January, given that the agreement only lasted until then.” [The Hill, 10/30/18]