facebook As Congress seeks to lower prescription prices, Big Pharma increases spending on lobbyists

BIG PHARMA POLITICS: Consumers pressure politicians to do something about rising drug prices. Read More

As Congress seeks to lower prescription prices, Big Pharma increases spending on lobbyists

At a record $27.5 million, PhRMA, the pharmaceutical industry lobbying group, spent its largest amount on lobbying activities in 2018 – $2 million more than its previous year’s record.

The organization employs 30 internal lobbyists and 150 contractors to lobby against efforts to lower prescription drug costs and other initiatives considered harmful to the industry. Big Pharma joined the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, which spent its own record $9.9 million on lobbying last year, STAT News reports.

Both the Trump administration and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have “turned up the volume on their own criticisms of the industry,” STAT said. That included a 2018 bill to address the Medicare coverage gap known as the donut hole. The donut hole is created by the limit on what most Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plans or Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plans can pay, often leaving you, the consumer, paying higher costs for brand-name and generic drugs.

Legislation intended to address the donut hole came as a surprise to PhRMA lobbyists who, according  to STAT, ended up scrambling and conceding on several other policies the industry would have otherwise opposed.

“This might well be the biggest political loss that PhRMA has suffered in a decade,” Daniel Carpenter, a professor of government at Harvard, told STAT.

For many years, Big Pharma was almost invincible on Capitol Hill and throughout state legislatures. A pledge from Democrats and the president to work together to lower drug prices is a sign the industry’s influence may have some cracks despite intense lobbying efforts.

Are you in the donut hole? How much do you have to pay for your prescription drugs on your Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage prescription drug plan? Has anything changed this month? Share your story with Voices for Affordable Health.