Big Pharma Goes all-Out with Massive Increase in Lobbying of U.S. Lawmakers to Protect Drug Price Monopolies
The long, drawn-out political circus that accompanies a
presidential election can be exhausting to say the least, especially
when, as usual, the candidates are far from representing the public's
needs and wants.
But thanks to social media and alternative news outlets, some genuinely important matters have made their way to the surface and served as talking points among this year's 2016 presidential candidates, i.e. unwarranted and unethical price hikes on pharmaceutical drugs.
Nearly all of the candidates have commented on Big Pharma's ugly practice of hiking up the price on important life-saving drugs, but regardless of whether or not those statements are rhetorical in nature is a moot point, because now, the issue is front and center.
Big Pharma throws its weight around in WashingtonAs a result, Big Pharma has launched a public relations campaign aimed at lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
A new report by The Hill details a plan by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, to use top level scientists and researchers to sway lawmakers away from policy changes that could ultimately hinder the industry's lucrative business model.
Representing 48 pharmaceutical companies, PhRMA is one of the largest and most influential lobbying organizations in Washington, according to SourceWatch. It has a history of concealing its lobbying and PR activities by paying other organizations to act as a front group, including the United Seniors Association and the Consumer Alliance.
PhRMA serves on the corporate board of the right-winged American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a powerful bill mill in which "corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line."
ALEC was behind 2011 Wisconsin Act 2, which according to SourceWatch's reporting sought to limit "the ability to hold corporations accountable for causing injury or death" and to "make it easier for corporations like drugmakers to escape liability for manufacturing dangerous products or products with insufficient warnings about hazards."
"Focused on defense"Over the last eight months, PhRMA has gone on the defense with a campaign led by the group's president and CEO Steve Ubli, "who has been working to spot clean" Big Pharma's public image.
Part of its strategy includes distancing itself from drug companies under fire for massive price hikes, including Martin Shkreli's former company Turing Pharmaceuticals, as well as Valeant Pharmaceuticals and Gilead, the latter of which began selling a hepatitis C drug at $1,000 per pill.
PhRMA is also working to "push out the federal policy changes" it believes can "limit price increases," The Hill reports.
"When I talk about going on offense, yes I want to educate about the myopic debate, the misinformation about the way the market is working, but I'm referring to a sort of proactive agenda," said Ubli.
Making the rulesEarlier this month the group released a 10-page "policy platform" of desired federal policy changes, which included a pitch for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to weaken its criteria for clinical trials.
The 21st Century Cures Act, already passed by the House, may give PhRMA exactly what it wants.
Also called H.R.6, the bill could weaken the approval process for prescription drugs and medical devices, allowing the latter to gain approval based simply on an article from a "peer-reviewed" medical journal, according to reports.
Safety testing by manufacturers is largely omitted under the 21st Century Cures Act. Drug and device makers could receive FDA approval for products based solely on the anecdotal experiences of individuals.
This is arguably why PhRMA wants "offices on Capitol Hill" to "get face time with the patients who have benefited from some of the newest, and most costly, drugs." Their new multi-million-dollar campaign "From Hopes to Cures" hit the airwaves beginning in 2016 and is aimed directly at lawmakers in Washington.
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