BigPharma

As outrage continues apace regarding high drug prices, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA is spending record sums fighting efforts to bring medication costs under control.

According to the Washington Examiner, PhRMA “spent a total of $14.2 million in the first six months of the year, which is about three-quarters of what it spent in all 12 months of 2016. Lobbying reports show that PhRMA had 24 lobbyists working on a variety of issues related to drug pricing and that it also contracted with 39 outside lobbying firms.”

Following President Trump’s 2016 victory, worry abounded at pharmaceutical companies over his proposed policy of allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices directly with manufacturers. It is unclear whether the policy would have significantly dented drug company profits, due to alleged weaknesses in the federal government’s prospective negotiating stance. However, PhRMA’s analysis clearly indicated that it would, and killing the plan was a high priority for numerous drug makers.

More recently attention has shifted to PhRMA efforts to kill off the 340B drug discount program, which enables many rural, poorer, red state voters to get drugs at lower prices. The program relies on no taxpayer money and was originally conceived as an offset to allowing PhRMA to profit off taxpayer-funded entitlement programs.

The reported PhRMA lobbying sums exclude the independent lobbying efforts undertaken by individual pharmaceutical companies. Previously, the industry as a whole spent significant money to advance Obamacare and Medicare Part D.

Last year, outrage spiked over a massive increase in the price drugmaker Mylan charges for EpiPens. Mylan, headed by the daughter of West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, had raised prices about 400 percent since 2009, bringing the cost of an EpiPen to about $600.

At the end of August, Big Pharma faced a fresh round of criticism as drugmaker Novartis announced a new cancer therapy priced at $475,000 per treatment.