October 12, 2021
Drug Corporations Kick Lobbying into High Gear to Stop Medicare Drug Price Negotiation
Millions of dollars in advertising, funded by pharmaceutical corporations and business organizations, are being spent to block President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, and the provision allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices and expand benefits is a focus of many of those ads. Some of the campaigns are designed to reinforce the positions of Democratic elected officials who oppose drug price negotiation, including Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) and Reps. Kathleen Rice (NY) and Kurt Schrader (OR).
Rep. Scott Peters (CA), the third House Democrat to block negotiation in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, also received praise in ads funded by the pharmaceutical trade group PhRMA. Peters has accepted over $88,000 in donations from drug corporations this year alone, more than any other member of the House, and represents a district heavily-populated by pharmaceutical offices.
Both Peters and the drug industry trade group supplement their opposition to the bill with dramatically scaled-back legislation of their own, prompting White House press secretary Andrew Bates to say, “…for far too long, the wealthiest taxpayers and big corporations — those who can afford lobbyists — have been able to write a special set of rules for themselves.”
“To say the drug corporations’ lobbyists are fully engaged would be putting it mildly,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance. “Their tactics make our grassroots opposition to their efforts, like letters from Alliance members to Capitol Hill and virtual events, more important than ever.”
Alliance members have been stressing the need to allow Medicare to save hundreds of billions of dollars by negotiating lower prices and to use the savings to allow Medicare to offer dental, hearing and vision benefits.
On Wednesday, October 6, the Arizona Alliance joined allies in speaking out against Big Pharma-connected political stunts, including ads designed to mislead Arizonans about the impact of prescription drug reforms being considered in Congress. The event drew attention to one stunt in particular, executed by a Pharma-allied GOP Super PAC affiliated with key Republicans in Congress who oppose letting Medicare negotiate lower drug prices. The ploy involved shipping boxes to Arizonans disguised with the label “MEDICAL SHIPMENT ENCLOSED,” “PLEASE OPEN URGENTLY.” In the package was an empty prescription bottle with the label “prescription denied.”