Big Pharma is striking back at Gov. Cuomo’s proposal to control the price of prescription drugs, reports the New York Daily News. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America is set to launch a new campaign on Wednesday calling on state lawmakers to reject Cuomo’s plan, saying it will do nothing to improve patient access to needed prescription drugs while threatening research and development and New York jobs. The “Prescribe Real Solutions” campaign will include online ads, a new website and a series of events across the state urging New Yorkers to contact their legislators, those close to the effort say. State of Politics, meanwhile reports that Gov. Cuomo’s top health officials told state lawmakers that price control regulations will withstand legal challenges.
President Trump met with leaders of some of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies Tuesday and emphasized the need to lower “astronomical” drug prices, decrease regulations and bring more drug manufacturing into the United States, reports The Washington Post. Trump offered no specific policies, but mentioned increasing competition and “bidding wars” as a way to bring down prices. In the past, he has lashed out at the pharmaceutical industry for “getting away with murder” and threatened to use the government’s bargaining power to force down drug prices for programs like Medicare.
Public Citizen Response
In a response to this proposal, Michael Carome, Director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group wrote:
President Donald Trump’s preposterous promise to pharmaceutical company CEOs to slash U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations by 75 to 80 percent would, if fulfilled, fundamentally destroy the ability of the agency to protect patients and consumers from unsafe or ineffective medications and medical devices, hazardous foods and dietary supplements, and dangerous tobacco products, among other things. The end result would be countless preventable deaths, injuries and illnesses across the U.S. Trump’s horrifying proposal reflects utter ignorance about the FDA’s essential role in protecting public health and once again demonstrates his commitment to placing corporate profits above protecting the safety of the American people.
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro has urged Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole to revoke his hold on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Report: Prescription Drugs: Innovation, Spending, and Patient Access. “By blocking the American people from seeing the HHS Drug Price report, Chairman Cole is denying the public critical information on spiraling drug spending in Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal health programs.” The full report is available here. The report found that almost 10% of U.S. Adults aged 18-64 reported not taking drugs as prescribed because of the high costs.
“Patient advocacy” groups have a unique power on Capitol Hill, writes David Dayen in The Intercept. They claim to represent the true voice of constituents, untainted by special interest bias. Politicians and the Food and Drug Administration use their endorsements as reflective of genuine public support. But a new study shows that nearly all of these patient advocacy groups are captured by the drug industry. David Hilzenrath at the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) reports that at least 39 of 42 patient advocacy groups who participated in discussions with the FDA over agency review processes for prescription drugs received funding from pharmaceutical companies. And at least 15 have representatives of drug or biotechnology companies on their governing boards. The study is particularly notable now because Congress is poised to pass the 21st Century Cures Act, which trades temporary additional funding for the National Institutes of Health and the FDA for permanent weakening of the FDA’s approval process. Over 1,400 lobbyists have been working on this bill, which would be a major financial boon to the drug and medical device industries.
In the last two decades, the public health community has generally agreed that the tobacco industry has no role in setting health policy or sponsoring research on tobacco. The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control bans industry participation in policy deliberations on Tobacco, most major global public health organizations and national health departments have sharply limited their interactions with representatives of the tobacco industry, and many universities and some journals no longer accept or publish research supported by the tobacco industry.
However, no such agreement has been reached on the appropriate role for corporations and trade associations in other sectors such as pharmaceuticals, food and beverages, and alcohol. Some health and business analysts emphasize that the different roles that the products of the tobacco, medicines, food and alcohol industries play in patterns of health and disease make any judgments inappropriate and misguided, especially in the case of the drug industry. “Such comparisons (between the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries) are not just absurd, they are irresponsible as they contribute to patients not taking prescribed medicines that can clearly benefit them”, wrote one former drug industry executive. Read more
The election of Donald Trump is expected to bring about significant changes in how the federal government regulates corporations to protect public health and the environment. It will take some time to analyze what changes are likely and how public health advocates can respond most effectively. To begin that analysis, Corporations and Health Watch highlights some of the first such assessments.
What President Donald Trump Will Mean for U.S. Food Policy
President-elect Donald Trump made a few issues central to his platform: immigration, taxes, and healthcare among them. Food policy has gone largely ignored, though Trump’s statements on other issues will certainly inform the way food policy will look for the next four years — and possibly beyond that, writes Virginia Chambee for Eater. Trump has been especially vocal about immigration. His plan to build a wall on the southern border of the U.S. will likely hit the agricultural and restaurant industry hard. He has called climate change a “hoax,” which means it likely won’t be high on his list of priorities; this could be devastating for farmers. When it comes to minimum wage, Trump believes it’s an issue best left up to states (so don’t expect a higher federal minimum any time soon). And on employee benefits, Trump wants to repeal President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, but is seemingly in favor of paid maternity leave (though it’s unclear if that plan will cover single mothers). Chamlee takes a closer look at where Trump stands on policies related to food safety, agriculture, and workers’ rights.
Trump Expected to Seek Deep Cuts in Business Regulations
Hours after Donald J. Trump won the race for the White House, scores of regulations that have reshaped corporate America in the last eight years suddenly seemed vulnerable, writes The New York Times. While many questions remain about how Mr. Trump will govern, a consensus emerged Wednesday in many circles in Washington and on Wall Street about at least one aspect of his impending presidency: Mr. Trump is likely to seek vast cuts in regulations across the banking, health care and energy industries. “This is going to be a president who will be the biggest regulatory reformer since Ronald Reagan,” Stephen Moore, one of Mr. Trump’s economic advisers said in an interview on Wednesday. “There are just so many regulations that could be eased.”
Get Used To High Drug Prices As Big Pharma Emerges From Election Stronger Than Ever
On the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump agreed on at least one thing: the need to control America’s spiraling costs of prescription drugs, writes Buzz Feed News. But after Tuesday’s election, the likelihood of drug pricing reform seems small. In California, Big Pharma spent more than $100 million to help defeat a ballot measure that would have pegged the state’s drug purchases to the discount rates currently offered to the Veterans Administration (VA).
That’s not to say that Big Pharma is thrilled with president-elect Trump, who has suggested that the huge Medicare program, which provides health insurance for senior citizens, should be able to negotiate prices with drug companies — something that’s currently prohibited by law. But with both houses of Congress remaining firmly under GOP control, legislation to shake up drug pricing seems unlikely. And specific plans proposed by Clinton, including fines for companies that jacked up prices without clear justification, are now off the table.
A decade ago, according to a new series of articles in The Washington Post, the Drug Enforcement Administration launched an aggressive campaign to curb a rising opioid epidemic that was claiming thousands of American lives each year. The DEA began to target wholesale companies that distributed hundreds of millions of highly addictive pills to the corrupt pharmacies and pill mills that illegally sold the drugs for street use.
Leading the campaign was the agency’s Office of Diversion Control, whose investigators around the country began filing civil cases against the distributors, issuing orders to immediately suspend the flow of drugs and generating large fines.
But the industry fought back. Former DEA and Justice Department officials hired by drug companies began pressing for a softer approach. In early 2012, the deputy attorney general summoned the DEA’s diversion chief to an unusual meeting over a case against two major drug companies. Read more.