Pharma’s grip on Congress

The pharma industry and its Republican allies in Congress are openly signaling their plans obstruct at every turn as the Biden administration looks to begin implementing a recently passed law allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices for the first time in its history. They’re using an argument debunked many times before money buys politicians.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and several other Republican senators introduced legislation that would repeal the new prescription drug pricing reforms, which Congress approved earlier this year as part of the Inflation Reduction Act—a measure that Republicans unanimously opposed.

Pharma lobbied aggressively against the Medicare drug pricing provisions, hysterically claiming the modest and prevalent changes could send the U.S. “back into the dark ages of biomedical research.”

Politico noted Thursday that the deep-pocketed drug industry—which boasts nearly three registered lobbyists for every member of Congress—is “gearing up to fight the law’s implementation, using whatever legal and regulatory tools are available.”

Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), sworn in as a senator next month, told Politico that “it’s going to be hard to reverse” the drug price reforms once they take effect and begin having a material impact.

The Pharmaceutical Industry Has Spent More Than $100 Million On Lobbying In 2022. 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 the next largest industry.

Threatened by regulated price caps from congress, the pharmaceutical industry spent nearly $390 million on lobbying in 2021, according to data from OpenSecrets.

And to top it off, drug prices are going up.

Drugmakers including Pfizer Inc (PFE.N), GlaxoSmithKline PLC (GSK.L), Bristol Myers Squibb (BMY.N), AstraZeneca PLC (AZN.L), and Sanofi SA (SASY.PA) plan to raise prices in the United States on more than 350 unique drugs in early January, according to data analyzed by healthcare research firm 3 Axis Advisors.

In 2022, drugmakers raised prices on more than 1,400 drugs according to data published by 46brooklyn, a drug pricing non-profit related to 3 Axis. That is the most increase since 2015.

The median drug price increase was 4.9% last year, while the average increase was 6.4%, according to 46brooklyn. Both figures are lower than the inflation rates in the United States.

Pfizer announced the most increases to date, with prices rising on 89 unique drug brands and an additional boost on ten drug brands at its Hospira arm.

The argument that drug companies need these price increases for R&D is complete bullshit. They need the price increases to please investors and Wall Street. The drug companies could care less about what the public thinks about them. They feel that we need them more than they need us.