U.S. Move to Negotiate Drug Prices Rare Defeat for Big Pharma 

Photo credit: Bloomberg

Big Pharma is notorious for spending money on lobbying efforts. But despite this, the industry is on course for a major defeat. 

This year, Big Pharma spent more than any other industry to lobby Congress and federal agencies. All its money has still failed to stop a bill that allows the government to negotiate prices on select drugs. 

The pharmaceutical industry spent at least $142 million on lobbying efforts. But the $430 billion Inflation Reduction Act, making its way through Congress to be enacted into law, would be a massive defeat for the industry. 

The Inflation Reduction Act includes massive changes in climate, health, and tax policies. It cleared its biggest hurdle last week when it was passed in the Senate. Today it will be voted on in the House of Representatives and is expected to pass. This will allow President Joe Biden to sign it into law. 

The new law would represent a rare legislative defeat for Big Pharma, and set a new precedent for curbing drug prices in the world’s most lucrative market for medicines. 

Health policy experts say the bill reflects Big Pharma’s weakening influence on the Democratic Party, and that its main argument against price negotiation — that it stifles innovation — is no longer persuasive for the public. 

Polling shows that the vast majority of Americans want the federal Medicare health plan for seniors to negotiate prices, with 83 percent of Americans believing so. 

The industry has a powerful trade association, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). Before the bill passed, it urged senators to reject it in an open letter. 

PhRMA president Stephen Ubl threatened lawmakers voting for it, saying they would not “get a free pass,” and that “few associations have all the tools o modern political advocacy at their disposal the way that PhRMA does.” 

But the bill passed the Senate anyway. 

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