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While Senate Democrats Prepare to Lower the Cost of Prescription Drugs… What’s Big Pharma Doing To Keep Their Profits High?

By August 5, 2022No Comments

Congress is closer than it has ever been to passing historic legislation that will drive down health care costs and level the playing field for working families. A core piece of this legislation is lowering prescription drug prices. As it stands, Americans pay three times more for prescription drugs than people in other countries, forcing millions to choose between affording their medications and paying for essentials like food or rent. With this legislation, Medicare will finally have the power to negotiate for lower drug prices and all Americans will be protected against outrageous and arbitrary price increases, but Big Pharma is pulling out all the stops to try to protect their sky-high profits and block the bill’s passage. With the help of their Republican allies, drug companies have been relentless in their efforts to spread lies about the Democrats’ plan to lower drug prices for families. Here’s what they’re doing now: 

  1. Trying to Keep People With Commercial Insurance From Paying Less for Their Drugs: The pharmaceutical industry has long viewed the Senate parliamentarian as their last hope to kill drug pricing reform as they desperately lobby to remove the drug provisions in the bill. Republican lobbyists are pushing for the parliamentarian to strike key provisions allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, repealing the Trump administration’s drug rebate rule, and forcing drug makers who raise prices faster than inflation to issue rebates. 
  2. Threatening Members Of Congress Who Stand Up For Lower Drug Prices:  PhRMA is openly threatening members of Congress who vote for lower drug prices with political retaliation. PhRMA and its 31 board members sent a letter to every member of Congress yesterday afternoon, urging them to vote against the package, and PhrMA head Steve Ubl has plainly stated that, “Those members who vote for this bill will not get a free pass. We’ll do whatever we can to hold them accountable.” Ubl has indicated that the drug lobby will use its massive war chest to attack anyone who votes for lower drug prices, warning that “Few associations have all the tools of modern political advocacy at their disposal in the way that PhRMA does.”
  3. Threatening Patients With Higher Prices And Supply Shortages: Not content just to threaten politicians who stand up for lower prices, the pharmaceutical industry is also threatening patients with higher prices and supply limitations if the Inflation Reduction Act passes. The head of PhRMA claims that one of the group’s member companies will cancel 15 drugs already in the development pipeline if the bill becomes law, and in a scare-mongering briefing last week drug executives said that if IRA passes, there will be reduced supply of lifesaving medicines. And the Congressional Budget Office predicts that manufacturers will respond to passage of this vital legislation by cranking up the launch prices of new drugs to preserve their massive profits.
  4. Continuing Their Spending Spree on False Advertising:  According to OpenSecrets, the pharmaceutical industry has spent $101 million lobbying on behalf of 483 clients in 2022, fighting Democratic efforts to rein in prescription drug costs. That is double the amount of spending as the next largest industry. And in the past few weeks, their spending has gotten even more frantic. Research by Patients for Affordable Drugs Now found that PhRMA and its allies have spent at least $18.6 million on television and digital ads since July 1, including $1 million in spending on new television ads just since the Inflation Reduction Act was announced on July 27. Many of these pharma-backed ads have been fact checked as false or misleading