A new analysis by the corporate and government watchdog group Accountable.US found while drugmakers spent $147 million to kill lower drug prices, major pharmaceutical CEOs raked in over $292.6 million and corporate profits skyrocketed.
New research published Wednesday shows that since the coronavirus pandemic began more than two years ago, the five largest pharmaceutical companies in the United States have spent nearly $150 million lobbying against Democratic proposals to lower the country’s increasingly outlandish drug prices.
The analysis by the corporate and government watchdog group Accountable.US estimates that Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, AbbVie and Merck poured a combined $147.3 million into lobbying Congress since 2020.
“Meanwhile, major pharmaceutical CEOs raked in over $292.6 million” as “their companies saw skyrocketing profits,” the report notes.
“Big Pharma, like many other industries, knows they cannot justify raising prices so high at the same time they boast of excessive profits, generous CEO bonuses and huge shareholder payouts,” said Accountable.US spokesperson Liz Zelnick.
“It is time the conservatives in Congress who complain constantly about inflation finally do something constructive about it — and there’s no better place to start than allowing Medicare to finally negotiate lower drug prices,” Zelnick added.
“What really matters most to these lawmakers: bringing down costs for seniors, or looking out for the bottom line of their big drug company donors?”
The fresh research on Big Pharma’s influence-peddling comes as Senate Democrats are working toward a compromise proposal that would allow Medicare to negotiate the prices of a small subset of prescription medicines directly with drug firms that have been pushing up costs with abandon for years.
In its current form, the new Democratic plan would cap Medicare Part D enrollees’ out-of-pocket prescription drug costs at $2,000 annually, penalize pharmaceutical companies that raise prices at a faster rate than inflation and require Medicare to negotiate the prices of a limited number of drugs.
The Congressional Budget Office projects the measure would save the U.S. — which spends far more on prescription drugs than other wealthy nations — $290 billion over 10 years.
Unsurprisingly, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America — the drug industry’s trade group — has denounced the proposal, decrying its “sweeping government price-setting policies.”
While it’s despised by the pharmaceutical industry — whose lobbyists on Capitol Hill outnumber members of Congress — the idea of allowing Medicare to directly negotiate drug prices is broadly popular with the U.S. public, garnering more than 80% support across party lines in some polling.
“Giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices is popular, necessary and will save lives,” the progressive advocacy group Social Security Works said Wednesday. “Now it’s time for Democrats in Congress to deliver for us.”