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Industry pushes back against efforts to control drug prices

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Despite calls for controlling expensive drug costs coming from all sides of the political spectrum, any momentum to address the issue has been lost amid rancorous debates over replacing the Affordable Care Act and stalled by roadblocks erected via industry pushback.

Despite calls for controlling expensive drug costs coming from all sides of the political spectrum, any momentum to address the issue has been lost amid rancorous debates over replacing the Affordable Care Act and stalled by roadblocks erected via industry pushback. More than two dozen bills aimed at curbing drug prices have been introduced in this or the previous Congress, according to the Drug Pricing Lab, a Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center program that has catalogued ideas for reducing prices. Proposals include importation from other developed countries, where regulations keep prices down; allowing government to negotiate the price of Medicare-covered drugs; speeding approval of cheaper generics; requiring notification before raising drug prices; and restricting consumer drug ads. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) increased member dues by one-half last year to prepare for battle. The pharmaceutical and health products industries spent $145 million on lobbying for the first half of 2017, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. Drugmakers say that high prices reflect heavy investment in innovation and drug development, and reject the notion that the industry wields too much influence in Washington. "These are important issues with significant ramifications," says Holly Campbell, a PhRMA spokeswoman. "So we will continue to be engaged with the administration to advance solutions that improve the marketplace and make it more responsive to the needs of patients."

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