Pharma buys politicians like candy

SUMMARY: (Financial Times) BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna will dominate the Covid-19 vaccine market next year, generating a massive $93.2bn in combined sales and legislation allowing the government to negotiate drug prices for Medicare is all but dead.

Pfizer is tipped to sell $54.5bn worth of Covid vaccines and Moderna $38.7bn, according to Airfinity data released to the Financial Times. The figures are far higher than analysts’ consensus estimates of $23.6bn and $20bn, respectively. Following criticism of Pfizer and Moderna over their poor record in supplying mRNA doses to middle- and low-income nations this year, both companies will increase their supply of vaccines to the developing world.

Meanwhile, the chance of negotiating drug prices for Medicare is all but dead thanks to big pharma pouring money into politicians’ pockets. Last week, with the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package stalled in Congress, Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema went on a fundraising trip to Europe.

Sinema has been the recipient of vast amounts of campaign cash from those connected to the pharmaceutical industry. The Kaiser Health News even called her a “pharma favorite in Congress.” Some reports have her receiving as much as $750,000 in drug company-related contributions, which has left many wondering if that’s why she’s not supporting the reconciliation bill.

Axios says it bluntly “the Democrats’ most significant attempt to rein in health care costs in the private market— specifically prescription drug costs — is increasingly likely to fail.”

  • With much attention on the public’s view on Medicare drug price negotiations, the latest KFF Tracking Poll finds large majorities support allowing the federal government to negotiate and this support holds steady even after the public is provided the arguments being presented by parties on both sides of the legislative debate (83% total, 95% of Democrats, 82% of independents, and 71% of Republicans).
  • Most adults – across partisans – don’t believe high drug prices are needed for drug companies to invest in new research instead agreeing that “even if U.S. prices were lower, drug companies would still make enough money to invest in the research needed to develop new drugs.” The results suggest that while hearing individual arguments may shift some views, the public still largely favors allowing Medicare drug negotiations when presented with the entirety of the public debate.

High drug prices can limit patients’ ability to take what physicians prescribe; this, in turn, leads to worse health outcomes, larger medical bills, and often financial hardship for patients, including bankruptcy. It also raises healthcare costs for public and private insurers alike.

Large, brand-name drug corporations could lose $1 trillion in sales over a decade and still be the most profitable industry in the nation #pharma
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Pharma is big business while pretending to care about patients. The public knows this, but money buys a lot of politicians.