Big Pharma Building their War Chest to Protect High Profits

By Jill Zorn

Prescription Medicine Bottles

As our recent blog explained, the public is increasingly worried about rising prescription drug prices, a concern that is being echoed by national and state-based policy makers.  The pharmaceutical corporations, worried about their stock prices and their profits, are fighting back, preparing to defend their price-gouging ways.

First let’s look at some of the recent developments in exposing Big Pharma’s profiteering.

Former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has been actively calling out the drug companies on social media.

In the middle of October, Senator Sanders focused on a leukemia drug manufactured by Ariad, tweeting:

“Drug corporations’ greed is unbelievable.  Ariad has raised the price of a leukemia drug to almost $199,000 a year”.

This week, he turned his attention to insulin, a life-saving drug used by many diabetics, with a series of tweets, including:

“People are dying or getting sicker because they can’t afford their insulin, just so Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk can make outrageous profits.”

“Why has the price of Humalog insulin gone up 700% in 20 years? It’s simple. The drug industry’s greed.”

“In the richest nation in the world, diabetes patients are being forced to decide between eating and paying for the drugs they need.”

Sanders isn’t the only legislator focused on the drug companies.  In fact, several bills have been introduced in Congress that have bipartisan support-a rarity in today’s polarized political climate.

Meanwhile, more and more states are talking about the issue, too.

At the recent Massachusetts hearings on health care cost trends, held in mid-October, pharmaceutical prices received a lot of attention.  That is because one of the main reasons the state has exceeded their target of 3.6% overall health cost growth in the past two years is because pharmacy spending increased by 10.2% in 2015 and 13.5% in 2014.  So, the state is now considering recommended strategies to address industry pricing.

Another sign that high drug prices are getting increased scrutiny at the state level is the newly released report from the National Association for State Health Policy’s Drug Cost Work Group, which counts  Connecticut’s Comptroller Kevin Lembo as a member.  The report offers 11 specific proposals for combating the impact of rising pharmaceutical costs on state budgets.

With policy makers and the public focused on unaffordable drug prices, it’s no wonder that the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufactures or America (PhRMA), is preparing to defend its corporations’ profits.

The lobbying group just asked its members to increase their dues by 50%, raising their takeWooden moneybox full of money from $200 million in the previous year to $300 million in this year.  Politico reports that PhRMA is, “bolstering its war chest as it gears up to spend hundreds of millions on ads…hoping to improve its public image next year and stave off any legislative action.”

It’s going to take a lot of people power to counteract the millions of dollars that pharmaceutical corporations are pouring into their lobbying efforts.  If you want to get involved in fighting unaffordable prescription drug prices in Connecticut, contact us at:  info@universalthealthct.org.

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