Analysis – The US move to negotiate drug prices is a rare failure for Big Pharma According to Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Bottles of pills line the shelves at a pharmacy in Portsmouth, Ohio, June 21, 2017. REUTERS / Bryan Woolston


By Ahmed Aboulenein

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Big Pharma has spent more than any other industry lobbying Congress and federal agencies this year, Reuters analysis shows, but still suffered a crushing setback after failing to do so. block a bill that would have allowed the government to negotiate prices for some drugs.

Although the pharmaceutical industry has already spent at least $142 million on lobbying efforts, the $430 billion Inflation Reduction Act for climate change, health, and tax policies will become a reality. into law. It overcame its biggest hurdle last week with the passage of the Senate, without any Republicans joining the Democrats to vote on the bill, followed by the US House of Representatives passing it on Tuesday. Friday. [nL1N2ZO2OV]

President Joe Biden will sign it into law next week.

The upcoming bill represents a rare legislative failure for the pharmaceutical industry and sets a precedent for reining in drug prices in the world’s most lucrative drug market, according to congressional and industry officials. .

“This is an important first step,” Democratic Senator Patty Murray, chair of the Senate health committee, told Reuters. “This is the first time we’ve been able to take this kind of step to lower the price of pharmaceuticals … which will set the stage for us to do more.” Health policy experts say the bill reflects the waning influence of the pharmaceutical industry on Democrats, and the party’s main argument against price negotiation – that it stifles innovation – is no longer viable. persuasive to the public.

An October Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 83% of Americans, including 95% of Democrats and 71% of Republicans, want the federal Medicare health plan for seniors to negotiate a price, a provision in the bill.

“The drug dealers were against this,” said Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat who chairs the finance committee.

The industry’s powerful trade association, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturing of America (PhRMA), called on the senators in a letter to publicly reject the bill. Its president, Stephen Ubl, told Politico that lawmakers who vote for it will not “get a free card.”

“Very few associations have all the modern political advocacy tools that PhRMA has,” he said.

A PhRMA spokesperson said the group will continue to work with all lawmakers. He did not address Ubl’s comments about holding lawmakers accountable.

Spokesperson Brian Newell said: “We may not agree on every issue, but we believe that engagement and dialogue are critical to fostering a policy environment that supports innovation. skilled workforce and access to life-saving medicines.”

PHARMA’S PLAN A Reuters analysis of lobbying data and campaign contributions from OpenSecrets found that the pharmaceutical industry spent at least $142.6 million on lobbying Congress and federal agency in the first half of 2022, more than any industry, and at least $16.1 million in campaign contributions during the current midterm election cycle beginning in January 2021.

Nearly two-thirds of the money spent on lobbying, about $93 million, comes from PhRMA and its member firms.

The Pharmaceuticals Campaign argues that prescription drugs are not contributing to inflation, citing an average 2.5% increase in drug prices over the past year compared with a 17% increase in health insurance prices.

Critics say the figures combine high-priced brand-name drugs with much lower-cost generic drugs, masking the impact on patients’ costs. A KFF study estimates that prices will rise faster than inflation for half of Medicare-covered drugs in 2020.

The industry has long warned that falling prices in the US market will hinder companies’ ability to invest in the development of new drugs.

With help from industry-backed Democrats, the bill’s provision for drug price negotiations was narrowed back in November, allowing Medicare to focus on up to 20 drugs annually. the most expensive in 2029, instead of the original proposal to help reduce the price of 250. treatments.

Opponents of more dramatic restrictions include Senator Kyrsten Sinema and Representative Scott Peters, two of the biggest recipients of donations in the industry, over $201,000 and $320,000, respectively. , according to OpenSecrets data.

“We’ve created a good space for investors to be able to recoup their investment, which has been consistently set out to develop new drugs,” Peters told Reuters.

“I still think they came out okay on this.”


Democratic staffers, industry executives and policy experts attribute the bill’s widespread popularity, combined with pressure on Democrats to pass meaningful legislation before the election. midterms in November, helped weather the pharmaceutical industry’s campaign.

“With this vote, I would imagine Pharma realizes that they don’t have many friends left among Democrats,” said Larry Levitt, KFF’s vice president of health policy. “Pharma considers this the nose of the camel under the tent, and probably so.”

Policy experts say the industry will likely try to minimize the impact of the bill as much as possible.

“They’re going to prosecute this through the courts,” said Mark Miller, a former government health policy official and now vice president of healthcare at Arnold Ventures. they will try and change the law” in the future.

The extent to which the bill could cause fear among investors remains to be seen, as many see pharmaceutical stocks as one of the safer bets during an economic downturn.

“Sentiment is at a multi-year high for US Pharma and we do not view the IRA drug reform as a significant change in investor positioning,” a note from JPMorgan (NYSE) analysts. 🙂 said.

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