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Congress Eyes Giving the Pharmaceutical Industry a Gift after the Elections

Oct 07, 2018

Alliance for Retired American's

The pharmaceutical industry is lobbying Congress in hopes of receiving a $4 billion windfall in the lame-duck session following the midterm elections, after losing an attempt to secure the money as part of the bipartisan opioids package passed last week. According to drug company executives, the money is designed to correct a technical error for the $11.8 billion Congress required them to pay over 10 years in a budget deal earlier this year in the fight over the Medicare Part D doughnut hole. That money was to go toward seniors’ medicines.

Consumer advocates are calling the potential windfall an industry buyout, arguing that the money would do nothing to lower drug prices. Pharma lobbyists are some of the most powerful in Washington, and many drug makers have formed alliances with lawmakers who would otherwise push back against skyrocketing drug costs.

The drug industry has reason to worry if Democrats secure control of the House after the election. Many Democratic representatives have promised investigations into rising drug prices, and will push to allow Medicare to negotiate for lower prices. Republican committee chairs and leadership have been friendly to drug companies, something that could change with new leadership.

Democrats would also like to allow drug importation from other countries in order to make drugs more affordable. However, the newly negotiated US-Mexico-Canada Agreement includes intellectual property protections for American drug makers that shield them from foreign competition and prevent importation.

“The voices of seniors who are struggling to afford their prescriptions should outweigh those of pharmaceutical CEOs who just want to line their pockets with more profit,” said Alliance President Robert Roach, Jr. “We must elect representatives who will fight for lower drug prices, not billion dollar windfalls for PhRMA.”