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Opponents of Capitol Hill’s drug price reform among Reuters’ largest beneficiaries of pharmaceutical funds

© Reuters. File Photo: Taken in Ljubljana on August 20, 2014, the table in this photo illustration has drug tablets and capsules in the form of US dollar symbols. REUTERS / Srdjan Zivulovic / File Photo

Ahmed Abourenein and Karl O’Donnell

(Reuters)-Democratic legislators in favor of the proposed drug price reform are one of the biggest beneficiaries of the pharmaceutical industry trying to stop price cuts, according to Reuters’ public lobbying and analysis of campaign data. Shown.

The industry, which traditionally donates much to the Republican Party, sent about 60% of the donated campaign finances to the Democratic Party this year. In 2021, we spent more than $ 177 million on lobbying and campaign donations.

Non-profit Political Action Committee (PAC) run by Pfizer Inc (NYSE :) and Amgen Inc (NASDAQ :) and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) were one of the largest donors, according to OpenSecrets political spending data, formerly the Center for Responsive Politics.

Pharmaceutical companies are trying to block legislation that authorizes the US government to negotiate prices for prescription drugs. Current US law prohibits the government’s Medicare health insurance program from negotiating drug prices directly.

Many Democrats who oppose the ambitious drug reduction bill proposed in the House of Representatives are among the largest recipients of pharmaceutical company lobbying funds.

Includes data from Senator Kyrsten Cinema in Arizona, Robert Menendez in New Jersey, Congressman Scott Peters in California, and Open Secrets covering industry donations through September 2021. This year, they received about $ 1 million in donations from the pharmaceutical and health products industry.

A cinema spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on the funds she received, but said the senator supported making the drug as cheap as possible for the patient.

Menendez and Peters said the donation did not affect their views. All three said they were opposed to the “Law to Lower the Cost of Drugs Now”, also known as HR3, sponsored by the Democratic Party of the House of Representatives.

Menendez and Peters have advocated alternative reduced drug price reforms that allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, but lead to significantly less savings.

Congressman Frank Pallone of New Jersey is also one of the top recipients of donations from pharmaceutical companies and voted in favor of HR3.

Cinema, which campaigned to cut drug prices in 2018, told the White House that it was opposed to allowing Medicare to negotiate them. She received about $ 466,000 from the industry in 2021, according to OpenSecrets data.

According to OpenSecrets data, Peters received the most pharmaceutical industry funding in house this year, near $ 99,550. A spokeswoman said Peters was unaffected by lobbying and opposed legislation proposed to protect the work and innovation of the pharmaceutical industry.

Pharmaceutical companies say the Democratic Party’s proposed drug price review will undermine its ability to develop new drugs. This is the argument that politicians used every time they talked about price cuts, regardless of political party.

“Patients are facing a less hopeful future under Congress’s current drug pricing plan,” PhRMA CEO Steve Uble said in an August statement in connection with the proposed law. PhRMA refused to comment on the bill’s donations to major Democratic opponents.

The United States is outlier, as most other developed countries are negotiating drug prices with manufacturers.

Amgen did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the donation, and Pfizer declined to comment.

Reform outlook

President Joe Biden has vowed to reduce drug costs by allowing the federal government to negotiate Medicare drug payments for Americans over the age of 65.

But with opposition from Democrats, including Cinema and Peters, the outlook for major drug price reforms has been stalled in recent weeks. Negotiations are underway, eight Democrats said.

According to a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, lawmakers’ resistance is because 83% of Americans support Medicare allowing Medicare to negotiate medical bills. The United States spends more than twice as much on drugs as other wealthy economies in 2019, about $ 1,500, for a total of about $ 350 billion.

“The House of Representatives does not necessarily reflect the views of the public, and the pharmaceutical industry is lobbying strongly,” said Larry Levitt, a health economist at Kaiser.

The healthcare industry is the second largest industry lobbying group in the United States after the financial sector. Prior to the 2020 elections, we donated more than $ 600 million to politicians.

The pharmaceutical industry has spent hundreds of millions of dollars annually to shake federal and state policy. However, current Democratic leaders are worried that the industry may actually enact major reforms and are working hard to provide alternatives, such as reducing insurance out-of-pocket costs. One industry source said. “It was a kind of crazy scrambling.”

US companies are not allowed to donate directly to candidates, but they can fund them through PAC. Most corporate PACs, including Pfizer and Amgen, are run by company managers and employees.

Democrats and some drug price experts say the law to lower drug prices now can save billions of dollars each year for US taxpayers and consumers with a relatively small impact on innovation.

According to a report by the House Oversight and Reform Committee, top pharmaceutical companies spend about $ 50 billion more on stock repurchases and dividends than on R & D between 2016 and 2020.

“There are other ways to encourage innovation besides paying huge profits to pharmaceutical companies,” said Rovisa Gustavson, a healthcare policy analyst at the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit health care advocate. Told.

Opponents of Capitol Hill’s drug price reform among Reuters’ largest beneficiaries of pharmaceutical funds Opponents of Capitol Hill’s drug price reform among Reuters’ largest beneficiaries of pharmaceutical funds

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