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Politics PhRMA launches 7-figure ad campaign against Democrats' drug pricing measures

19:50  15 september  2021
19:50  15 september  2021 Source:   thehill.com

Overnight Health Care — Democrats face setback on drug pricing

  Overnight Health Care — Democrats face setback on drug pricing Welcome to Wednesday's Overnight Health Care, where we're following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.It's been over a week, and the zebras running loose in Maryland-which were definitely not freed by Eleanor Holmes Norton- are still out there. Be safe! Three Democrats in the House voted against a drug pricing amendment, throwing the party's signature plan to lower the cost of prescription drugs into question. For The Hill, we're Peter Sullivan (psullivan@thehill.com), Nathaniel Weixel (nweixel@thehill.com) and Justine Coleman (jcoleman@thehill.com).

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) announced Wednesday that it is launching a seven-figure ad campaign against the proposals moving through Congress to lower prescription drug prices.

a close up of a keyboard: PhRMA launches 7-figure ad campaign against Democrats' drug pricing measures © Getty Images PhRMA launches 7-figure ad campaign against Democrats' drug pricing measures

The group also released an open letter signed by the heads of all of its member companies, pointing to the COVID-19 vaccines and treatments developed by the industry and arguing the proposals would "sacrifice future medical advances."

The moves are part of an aggressive campaign against the measures to lower drug prices backed by congressional Democrats, which threaten to take a large chunk of money out of the pharmaceutical industry.

Senate approval for drug pricing reforms will be uphill battle, advocates warn

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The Congressional Budget Office estimated that House Democrats' leading bill, known as H.R. 3, would save the government almost $500 billion over 10 years on prescription drugs, and lower prices by about 50 percent on drugs whose prices would become eligible for negotiation by the secretary of Health and Human Services.

The push from PhRMA, long known as a powerful force in Washington, comes as congressional Democrats are pressing forward with legislation to lower drug prices as part of their $3.5 trillion reconciliation package.

The details of the final legislation remain unclear, though, particularly after three moderate House Democrats, Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.), and Scott Peters (D-Calif.), said Tuesday they would vote against H.R. 3 in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, saying they instead wanted a more scaled-back measure.

Moderate House Democrats threaten drug pricing bill in House panel

  Moderate House Democrats threaten drug pricing bill in House panel Three moderate House Democrats announced that they would vote against their party's legislation to lower drug prices in committee on Tuesday, threatening a defeat for one of Democrats' signature measures. Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), Scott Peters (D-Calif.) and Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) announced in separate statements on Tuesday that they would vote against the section of Democrats' $3.5 trillion package dealing with lowering drug prices during a markup in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is currently ongoing.

Advocates have accused the three lawmakers of being beholden to the pharmaceutical industry.

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"Big Pharma will spend, do, and say whatever it takes to defeat any legislation that will curb its unilateral power to dictate prices of prescription drugs," David Mitchell, founder of the group Patients for Affordable Drugs Now, said on Tuesday.

In its ad, PhRMA states that the new drug pricing measure would mean politicians would be deciding what "medicines you can and can't get."

"Politicians say they want to negotiate medicine prices in Medicare," the new ad states. "But make no mistake: What politicians mean is they'll decide which medicines you can and can't get."

Tricia Neuman, a Medicare expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation, pushed back on that claim, noting that the legislation in Congress would not allow the government to decide not to cover certain drugs.

"The bill working its way through Congress focuses on drug prices," Neuman wrote in an email. "There's really nothing in the proposal that would allow the government to decide which medications people on Medicare can get."

Democrats suffer blow on drug pricing as 3 moderates buck party

  Democrats suffer blow on drug pricing as 3 moderates buck party Democrats' signature legislation to lower drug prices was defeated in a House committee on Wednesday as three moderate Democrats voted against their party.Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), Scott Peters (D-Calif.), and Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) voted against the measure to allow the secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower drug prices, a long-held goal of Democrats.The vote is a striking setback for Democrats' $3.5 trillion package.Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), Scott Peters (D-Calif.), and Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) voted against the measure to allow the secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower drug prices, a long-held goal of Democrats.

Allowing the secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower drug prices, the center of Democrats' measures, is extremely popular with voters in polls.

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll earlier this year found almost 90 percent of the public favors the idea.

PhRMA points out that the same poll found that when people were told that the proposals "could lead to less research and development of new drugs," support dropped to just 32 percent.

When H.R. 3 passed the House in 2019, the CBO estimated it would result in eight fewer drugs being introduced over a 10 year period, out of about 300 drugs expected to be introduced in total over that time.

Ken Frazier, executive chairman of Merck, told reporters that under H.R. 3, "we will lose that substantial funding for R&D, which means we will forego many important discoveries that will have an impact not just on the economy, not just on this industry, but on the many people who are waiting for those cures and treatments to come forward."

Overnight Health Care — Nicki Minaj stokes uproar over vaccines .
Welcome to Tuesday's Overnight Health Care, where we're following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.Rap star Nicki Minaj is under scrutiny from many critics for tweeting about her decision not to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and for promoting an unsubstantiated story to her millions of followers."She should be thinking twice about propagating information that really has no basis as except a one-off anecdote," White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci told CNN's Jake Tapper. "That's not what science is all about.

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