Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
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Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
Pharmaguy curates and provides insights into selected drug industry news and issues.
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The Emerging "PharmaGovernment Complex"

The Emerging "PharmaGovernment Complex" | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Alex Azar’s job hop from drugmaker Eli Lilly to the Trump administration reflects ever-deepening ties between the pharmaceutical industry and the federal government.

 

A Kaiser Health News (KHN) analysis shows that hundreds of people have glided through the “revolving door” that connects the drug industry to Capitol Hill and to the Department of Health and Human Services.

 

Azar was confirmed on Wednesday as HHS secretary, joining other former drug industry alumni in top positions.

 

Nearly 340 former congressional staffers now work for pharmaceutical companies or their lobbying firms, according to data analyzed by KHN and provided by LegiStorm, a nonpartisan congressional research company. On the flip side, the analysis showed, more than a dozen former drug industry employees now have jobs on Capitol Hill—often on committees that handle healthcare policy.

 

“Who do they really work for?” said Jock Friedly, LegiStorm’s president and founder, who called that quantity “substantial.” “Are they working for the person who is paying their bills at that moment or are they essentially working on behalf of the interests who have funded them in the past and may fund them in the future?”

 

In many cases, former congressional staffers who now work for drug companies return to the Hill to lobby former co-workers or employees. The deep ties raise concerns that pharmaceutical companies could wield undue influence over drug-related legislation or government policy.

Pharma Guy's insight:

I’d like to say one or two words about what I call the “PharmaGovernment Complex,” which is the collusion between the pharmaceutical industry, lawmakers, and government agencies.

 

There has always been “collusion” between the pharmaceutical industry and lawmakers who have profited from financial contributions from the industry as well as help from industry “hired guns” (lobbyists) to craft laws benefitting the drug industry. I’ve spent a lot of time writing about this in the past. Obviously, my efforts and the efforts of many others to shine a light on this has achieved nothing. The amount spent on lobbying during the first nine months of Donald Trump’s presidency, reports the Center for Responsive Politics, was higher than in any corresponding period since 2012. In fact, "The D.C. Pharma Lobbying Swamp is Bigger & More Slimy Than Ever!"; http://sco.lt/6srYJd

 

And all this lobbying has paid off BIG! The Department of Health and Human Services – including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – has now been taken over completely by the pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a conservative health policy expert with deep ties to the pharmaceutical industry, now leads the FDA and Alex Azar, who served for five years as president of Lilly USA, is now U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. As Public Citizen says, "Big Pharma’s political coup [is] complete. The industry whose business model is built around government-funded research and development, government-granted monopolies and government purchases of its overpriced medicines" now has its foxes in all the government health hen houses!

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PhRMA Dumps Lots More Money Into Coffers of Pols & Patients

PhRMA Dumps Lots More Money Into Coffers of Pols & Patients | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Facing bipartisan hostility over high drug prices in an election year, the pharma industry’s biggest trade group boosted revenue by nearly a fourth last year and spread the millions collected among hundreds of lobbyists, politicians and patient groups, new filings show.

 

It was the biggest surge for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA, since the group took battle stations to advance its interests in 2009 during the run-up to the Affordable Care Act.

 

“Does that surprise you?” said Billy Tauzin, the former PhRMA CEO who ran the organization a decade ago as Obamacare loomed. Whenever Washington seems interested in limiting drug prices, he said, “PhRMA has always responded by increasing its resources.”

 

The group, already one of the most powerful trade organizations in any industry, collected $271 million in member dues and other income in 2016. That was up from $220 million the year before, according to its latest disclosure with the Internal Revenue Service.

 

PhRMA spent $7 million last year to prepare its ubiquitous “Go Boldly” ad campaign and gave millions to politicians who were up for election in both parties in dozens of states. It lavished more than $2 million on scores of groups representing patients with various diseases — many of them dealing with high drug costs.

 

Some of the biggest patient-group checks went to the American Autoimmune Related Disease Association, for $260,000; the American Lung Association, for $110,000; the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, for $136,150; and the Lupus Foundation of America, for $253,500.

 

PhRMA also gave big money to national political groups financing congressional, presidential and state candidates. The conservative-leaning American Action Network got $6.1 million. The Republican Governors Association got $301,375. Its Democratic counterpart got $350,000.

 

 

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How Congress Allied with Drug Company Lobbyists to Derail the DEA’s War on Opioids

How Congress Allied with Drug Company Lobbyists to Derail the DEA’s War on Opioids | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

In April 2016, at the height of the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history, Congress effectively stripped the Drug Enforcement Administration of its most potent weapon against large drug companies suspected of spilling prescription narcotics onto the nation’s streets.

 

By then, the opioid war had claimed 200,000 lives, more than three times the number of U.S. military deaths in the Vietnam War. Overdose deaths continue to rise. There is no end in sight.

 

A handful of members of Congress, allied with the nation’s major drug distributors, prevailed upon the DEA and the Justice Department to agree to a more industry-friendly law, undermining efforts to stanch the flow of pain pills, according to an investigation by The Washington Post and “60 Minutes.” The DEA had opposed the effort for years.

 

The law was the crowning achievement of a multifaceted campaign by the drug industry to weaken aggressive DEA enforcement efforts against drug distribution companies that were supplying corrupt doctors and pharmacists who peddled narcotics to the black market. The industry worked behind the scenes with lobbyists and key members of Congress, pouring more than a million dollars into their election campaigns.

 

The chief advocate of the law that hobbled the DEA was Rep. Tom Marino, a Pennsylvania Republican who is now President Trump’s nominee to become the nation’s next drug czar. Marino spent years trying to move the law through Congress. It passed after Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) negotiated a final version with the DEA.

 

As Rep. Tom Marino’s Pennsylvania district was reeling from the opioid crisis, he sponsored a bill that, current and former Drug Enforcement Administration officials say, undermined the DEA's efforts to stop the flow of pain pills. 

 

For years, some drug distributors were fined for repeatedly ignoring warnings from the DEA to shut down suspicious sales of hundreds of millions of pills, while they racked up billions of dollars in sales.

 

The new law makes it virtually impossible for the DEA to freeze suspicious narcotic shipments from the companies, according to internal agency and Justice Department documents and an independent assessment by the DEA’s chief administrative law judge in a soon-to-be-published law review article. That powerful tool had allowed the agency to immediately prevent drugs from reaching the street.

 

Political action committees representing the industry contributed at least $1.5 million to the 23 lawmakers who sponsored or co-sponsored four versions of the bill, including nearly $100,000 to Marino and $177,000 to Hatch. Overall, the drug industry spent $106 million lobbying Congress on the bill and other legislation between 2014 and 2016, according to lobbying reports.

 

“The drug industry, the manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and chain drugstores, have an influence over Congress that has never been seen before,” said Joseph T. Rannazzisi, who ran the DEA’s division responsible for regulating the drug industry and led a decade-long campaign of aggressive enforcement until he was forced out of the agency in 2015. “I mean, to get Congress to pass a bill to protect their interests in the height of an opioid epidemic just shows me how much influence they have.”

 

Further Reading:

Pharma Guy's insight:

No wonder that Pennsylvania Underestimates Death Due to Opioids by More Than Half!: http://sco.lt/93iR3h 

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Republicans Becoming More Aggressive in Soliciting Funds from Pharma Ahead of Mid-term Elections

Republicans Becoming More Aggressive in Soliciting Funds from Pharma Ahead of Mid-term Elections | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

[8 of the top 10 recipients of pharma $ in the first half of 2017 are Republicans.]

 

For pharma companies, “now would be the time to give out the money, ahead of a piece of legislation that may come down the road,” said Kent Cooper, a former Federal Election Commission official who has tracked political money for decades. “You want to get your name out there and make a connection with these members’ legislative assistants — so you are known to them and you can get in their door.”

 

Evidence has grown that pharma companies helped fuel the nation’s addiction and overdose crisis with sales of powerful painkillers, prompting calls for an overhaul. Drug developers are also preparing for renewal of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, which generates revenue to pay for government review and approval of drugs.

 

At the same time, drug companies anticipated Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which finances billions in drug sales. That process has stalled in the Senate. All of this gives drugmakers the most powerful incentives in years to cultivate policymakers, analysts say.

 

Tense politics may also be prompting members of Congress to be energetic about soliciting donations.

 

“My sense is that Republicans are nervous in the House — especially given the long-term record of the presidential party losing seats in the midterm,” said David Magleby, a political scientist at Brigham Young University who studies campaign finance. “I would be surprised if Republican incumbents across the board aren’t more aggressive in raising money in the first and second quarters.”

 

Kaiser Health News analyzed first-quarter campaign finance reports for members of Congress. We included contributions made both directly and through joint fundraising committees to candidate campaign committees by political action committees (PACs) that are associated with pharmaceutical companies, pharmacy benefit managers and trade groups. These reports are subject to change as candidates file amendments and issue refunds. We did not include contributions made by individuals.

 

Further Reading:

  • “Opioid Drug Maker Mallinckrodt Spends Big Lobbying Lawmakers About Opioids”; http://sco.lt/6lxyqX
  • “The Who's Who of ‘Health Care’ (i.e., Pharma) Lobbyists, 2017 vs 2016 Budgets”; http://sco.lt/8oWq4f
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#Pharma, PBMs, Pharmacies: The "Three Stooges of Drug Price Lobbying!"

#Pharma, PBMs, Pharmacies: The "Three Stooges of Drug Price Lobbying!" | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

A civil war has broken out among the most powerful players in the pharmaceutical industry — including brand-name and generic drug makers, and even your local pharmacists — with each blaming others for the rising price of medicine.

 

“You remember that old photograph of the Three Stooges, their faces cracked sideways and they are pointing at each other?” asked Chester Davis Jr., the president of the Association for Accessible Medicines. “Everyone is doing the finger-pointing, when in fact there is a lot of blame to go around.”

 

When the independent pharmacists descended on Capitol Hill in late April, they came with a brochure depicting benefit managers as sharp-toothed dogs, grabbing bags of money.

 

With billions in profit on the line, the pharmaceutical and health products industry has already spent $78 million on lobbying in the first quarter of this year, a 14 percent jump over last year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The industry pays some 1,100 lobbyists — more than two for each member of Congress.

 

In the 2016 election cycle, the industry poured more than $58 million into the election campaigns of members of Congress and presidential candidates, as well as other political causes, the Center for Responsive Politics data shows. That was the biggest investment in the industry’s history and a 20 percent jump from the last presidential election cycle in 2012.

 

No single proposal has emerged as a clear winner in the bid to lower prices. Mr. Trump has sent conflicting signals: On one hand, he has accused the industry of “price fixing” and has said the government should be allowed to negotiate the price of drugs covered by Medicare. At other times, he has talked about rolling back regulations and named an industry-friendly former congressman, Tom Price, to head the Department of Health and Human Services, and a former pharmaceutical consultant, Scott Gottlieb, to lead the Food and Drug Administration. [Meanwhile, “Big Pharma (@PhRMA) Stands Behind Trump Even As He Vows to Lower Prices to Medicare”; http://sco.lt/5461NB]

 

Members of Congress have put forward a grab-bag of options, each of which would help or hurt different industry players (read “A Look at Major Drug-Pricing Proposals: The Good, The Bad, and The Defeated”; http://sco.lt/6OrJq5).

 

Some address minor aspects, such as a bipartisan bill that would force brand-name drugmakers to hand over samples of their drugs to generic competitors. One would allow for the importing of cheaper drugs. Another would force pharmacy benefit managers to disclose more information about how they did business.

 

For now, it is a free-for-all.

 

The brand-name drug industry is the dominant player. It spends the most on campaign contributions, has the largest army of lobbyists and has the biggest pile of chits among lawmakers to try to protect its own interests.

 

Its trade group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, was so concerned about its vulnerability this year that it increased its annual dues by 50 percent — generating an extra $100 million to flood social media, television stations, as well as newspapers and magazines with advertising that reminds consumers of the industry’s role in helping to save lives. A second set of PhRMA ads point blame for price increases elsewhere, like benefit managers and health insurers (read “PhRMA Plans to Seize Control of Public Narrative Over Drug Prices with Massive Ad Campaign”; http://sco.lt/9E2Lab).

 

Further Reading:

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#Pharma Turning Patients With Rare Diseases Into D.C. Lobbyists

#Pharma Turning Patients With Rare Diseases Into D.C. Lobbyists | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

The pharmaceutical industry is teaming up with advocacy groups that are training and even paying for patients who need their medicines to promote their causes in Washington.

 

National polls identify high drug prices as Americans’ No. 1 health care complaint (read, for example, “Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: Americans Weigh In on How to Keep Drug Costs Down”; http://sco.lt/5EGuMT),  and President Trump has declared that pharmaceutical companies are “getting away with murder”; http://sco.lt/6W2Ly5 

 

But these behind-the-scenes partnerships between the pharmaceutical industry and advocacy groups may work against reducing the price of high-price drugs. Critics say vulnerable patients are being manipulated and the goals promoted are skewed by the pharma benefactors who want faster government approval for new products and to get insurers or government programs to pay for them, whatever the price tag.

 

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a bioethicist who has studied the issue, said he questions whether patient advocacy groups truly are “white knights defending the good fight.” He said research suggests that the conflicts of interest that occur when drug companies train and finance patient groups are “pretty rampant.” Emanuel co-authored a March study that found 83 percent of the 104 largest patient advocacy groups take money from the drug, medical device, and biotech industries (read "83% of Patient-Advocacy Organizations Receive Substantial Financial Support from the Drug Industry But Few Disclose How Much"). Smaller organizations are even more likely to be disproportionately dependent on industry funding for their operating budgets, he said.

 

The patient-lobbying conference, organized by the EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases, underlines how the financial interests of manufacturers and the medical needs of patients are intertwined.

 

More than 300 patients and advocates attended, and nearly all took part in a subsequent “Lobby Day” to visit congressional staff and lawmakers. They permitted a reporter from Kaiser Health News to observe and also join in a reception showcasing art by some of the patients.

 

Many patients were visibly sick or terminally ill. When deployed to pay visits to politicians, they add a human face to lobbying efforts around proposed legislation that affects pharma. Legislation like the Cures Act might increase spending on drug development or grease the pathway of drugs to market and with fewer regulations.

Before going to Capitol Hill, the patients and their families underwent a day of training, learning how to tell their stories. If at a loss for what to talk about, they were provided talking points on what EveryLife staffers called potential “asks.”

 

The group’s president, Dr. Emil Kakkis, is a drug industry executive. He said the foundation doesn’t “tell patients what to do on the Hill. They are given options.”

 

During one session called “Tricks of the Trade: Preparing for a Successful Meeting,” Soapbox Consulting chief executive Christopher Kush walked the audience through logistics for the next day.

 

The attendees were given a mobile app, which shows each advocate’s prearranged meeting list. Checking a map, Kush looked at the audience and said: “If you see a little dot where you live, you may have a new member of Congress—or a green check on your state, that means you have a new senator.”

 

Emanuel said he believes that patient advocacy groups should openly state their potential conflicts while participating in regulatory meetings. In addition, Emanuel said, drug and device manufacturers should annually report how much they pay patient advocacy groups just as they do with physicians and teaching hospitals.

 

Further Reading:

  • “PhRMA Deploys Scientists & Patients as Lobbyists on Capitol Hill”; http://sco.lt/5xer57
  • “How a #pharma Funded ‘Grassroots’ Patient Advocacy Campaign Changed FDA's Approval Process”; http://sco.lt/4tqlbF
  • “Pharma Lines Up Patient Groups to Fight for PDUFA Boondoggle”; http://sco.lt/6o27VZ
  • “The Ying Yang of Patient Advocate Groups and the Pharma Industry”; http://sco.lt/7q2g8f
  • “Transparency is Good in Theory, But Not in Practice”; http://sco.lt/6qCqTR
  • “#Pharma to Patient Advocacy Groups Questioning High Drug Prices: ‘Why Are You Doing This to Us?’"; http://sco.lt/4sOB7J
  • “Is There No End to Mylan's Shenanigans? Paying Off Patient Groups to Lobby!”; http://sco.lt/6Sl0ld
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#Pharma Lobbying Wins: California Drug Price Transparency Bill is Scrapped

#Pharma Lobbying Wins: California Drug Price Transparency Bill is Scrapped | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

A closely watched effort in California to pass a bill that would require drug makers to explain their price hikes has been scuttled. The decision came after amendments were made during an assembly committee hearing last Friday that sources told us “effectively gutted” the legislation.

 

The bill would have required drug makers to report any move to increase the list price of a medicine by more than 10 percent during any 12-month period. And drug makers would also have had to justify price hikes for medicines with a list price of more than $10,000 within 30 days of making such a move.

 

“Unfortunately, recent amendments have made it more difficult for us to accomplish our fundamental goal,” said California state Senator Ed Hernandez, who pulled the bill after introducing the legislation and succeeding in getting the state Senate to approve the measure two months ago.

 

The legislation was one of more than a dozen such efforts by state legislatures around the country in response to rising medicine costs. Beyond sensational examples of drug prices rising by sky-high amounts, average prices for prescription drugs increased 10 percent last year, according to Truveris, a health care data company. And prices for brand-name medicines, specifically, jumped nearly 15 percent.

 

Related stories:

  • J&J is Largest Contributor to #Pharma Lobbying Group Opposing Drug Pricing Relief Ballot Measure; http://sco.lt/8itVIH
  • Big #Pharma Out Spends AIDs Advocates 10-to-1 to Defeat California Drug Price Ballot; http://sco.lt/8gcLGz
Pharma Guy's insight:
 

Pharma spokesmen resist [these calls] for transparency, claiming that the measure would dampen incentives for companies to develop lifesaving therapies. Their objection also sings the PhRMA's old tune that while drugs constitute only 10 to 12 percent of health care costs, they save the system money by keeping patients out of the hospital.

 

Other states that may still be in play: Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, North Carolina, and Oregon [may still] have various bills pending to expose the way pharma company’s price their drugs. Read "Transparency Hits a Wall When It Comes to Drug Pricing"; http://sco.lt/7jfBo1 
 
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Former #Pharma Pfizer R&D Exec Gives Some Advice to PhRMA's New CEO

Former #Pharma Pfizer R&D Exec Gives Some Advice to PhRMA's New CEO | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

PhRMA has a new leader, Mr. Stephen J. Ubl who began his Washington tenure on Capitol Hill, serving as special assistant to Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA).


"Mr. Ubl has the opportunity to change the tone of the current pricing debate as well as the other issues that impact the pharmaceutical industry’s reputation," says former Pfizer Exec John LaMattina.


You have to admire Mr. Ubl for his courage in taking on this role as he couldn’t have picked a more difficult time to assume the mantel of industry spokesperson. If there is one issue that all the current candidates for the U. S. Presidency seem to agree on, it is that the pharmaceutical industry needs to be reined in, particularly with respect to drug prices. There couldn’t be a bigger bullseye on the pharmaceutical industry.


Mr. Ubl has chosen to defend other questionable positions. For example, many object to new drugs that are modest modifications over older equally effective – and likely cheaper – medicines. Mr. Ubl defended this practice saying that “What some call small changes are often important clinical advantages.” A better answer would have been that all new drugs need to demonstrate meaningful benefits over existing medications to justify their pricing. If any new drug doesn’t add value, physicians, payers and patients should stay with the lower cost drugs. He also needs to avoid such as rhetoric “The debate around drug pricing is myopic and misinformed.” Rather than telling people they don’t understand, it would be better to describe the value of new medicines and provide examples as to how breakthrough medicines save the healthcare system money and save people’s lives.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Ubl is a veteran Washington, DC insider/lobbyist, a qualification that seems to be going contrary to what the U.S. public considers appropriate for its leaders. Is PhRMA out of step with public opinion? Will it be able to influence that opinion? Or is it primarily focused on influencing lawmakers in Washington? Choosing Ubl as CEO seems to support the latter goal rather than the former.

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#Pharma Ramps Up Ads & Lobbying to Fend Off Rx Pricing Regulation

#Pharma Ramps Up Ads & Lobbying to Fend Off Rx Pricing Regulation | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

The pharmaceutical industry, under fire this election season for rising drug prices, is ramping up a new advertising campaign designed to improve its reputation with lawmakers as it lobbies against any effort to rein in prescription costs. 


The sector’s largest trade group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, says it intends to spend several million dollars this year, and 10% more than in 2015, on digital, radio and print ads that emphasize the industry’s role in developing new drugs and advancing medical science.
 

Many of the ads are running on social-media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter,because PhRMA wants to target federal and state lawmakers, policy analysts and other political “influencers,” said Robert Zirkelbach, senior vice president of communications at PhRMA, which represents nearly three dozen of the largest drugmakers, including Pfizer Inc. and Amgen Inc.


Websites like Facebook promise to deliver ads to specific audiences based on characteristics including their location, occupation and keyword search history. 


The campaign is primarily directed at policy makers in Washington, but ads will also run in some select states that have yet to be determined, Mr. Zirkelbach said.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Are pharma PACs & people still giving money to Bush? http://sco.lt/6K6grZ 

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#Pharma Boosts Lobbying Spend to Counter Growing Drug Price Scrutiny

#Pharma Boosts Lobbying Spend to Counter Growing Drug Price Scrutiny | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

PhRMA spent $18.32 million on lobbying in 2015, up from $16.51 million in 2014. Last year was the first year that PhRMA’s lobbying spending rose since 2009, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. 


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Researcher Claims Lobbying, Like DTC Advertising, is Educational.

Researcher Claims Lobbying, Like DTC Advertising, is Educational. | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

A new study suggests lobbying by private groups does, indeed, influence federal funding for rare disease research. Every dollar spent on lobbying generated congressional support in the form of soft earmarks, which are passages in an appropriations bill that urge or encourage spending but do not carry the rule of law. In this instance, the term refers to providing funding for NIH research into particular diseases.


As lobbying increased between 1998 and 2008 – the stretch of time examined in the study – so did the number of soft earmarks attributed to the lobbying, although the trend varied some years. Similarly, the study found the pattern then extended to NIH allocations for research grant solicitations, known at the agency as requests for applications and program announcements.


Just the same, lobbying efforts on behalf of rare disease research may only affect a relatively small portion of such federal funding. The share of overall NIH funding for new projects on rare diseases that could be attributed to soft earmarks between 1998 and 2008 ranged anywhere from only 3% to 15%, according to the study, which is being published in Management Science.


Some critics have complained that such lobbying sways decision makers to unfairly divert funds from other areas of promising research. But study co-author Deepak Hegde, who is an assistant professor of management and organizations at the New York University Stern School of Business, maintains lobbying can alert Congress to the toll that rare diseases take on society, as well as new medical literature.


In that way, he suggests that such lobbying may not actually distort public science. “Lobbying may be transmitting information about the public burden [of rare diseases] and scientific opportunities [for research] into the allocation process that might not otherwise use this information,” says Hegde.

Pharma Guy's insight:


You have to look at the ultimate source of the funding from these groups. A lot may come from #pharma.


Perhaps rare disease sufferers could benefit more from earlier diagnosis. An interesting Shire Pharmaceutical survey compares the health, psycho-social, and economic impact of rare diseases on patient and medical communities in the United States (US) and United Kingdom (UK). According to patients surveyed, it takes on average 7.6 years in the US for a patient with a rare disease to receive a proper diagnosis, whereas it takes 5.6 years in the UK.


This is interesting because the US pharma industry claims that single payer systems, which drive drug prices down, have longer wait times for essential medical care.


Read this Pharma Marketing Blog post to learn more: Rare Disease Sufferers in US Worse Off Financially & Medically Than Those in UK

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The D.C. Pharma Lobbying Swamp is Bigger & More Slimy Than Ever! PhRMA & BIO Set a New Record in 2017

The D.C. Pharma Lobbying Swamp is Bigger & More Slimy Than Ever! PhRMA & BIO Set a New Record in 2017 | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

The two big groups that lobby on behalf of drug companies set a new record for their collective spending in the first year of the Trump administration.

Shelling out a combined sum of nearly $35 million to lobby the federal government in 2017, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization upped their expenditures at a time when the sweeping tax overhaul was on the line and fears of a crackdown on drug pricing were top of mind. Remarkably, however, the record-setting spending push came in spite of the fact that neither group took a position on the biggest health policy story of the year, the long and steady Republican quest to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

PhRMA came just short of breaking its own record. The group spent more than $25 million — just about $700,000 shy of its spending total in 2009, at the height of the debate over the ACA in the first year of the Obama administration. BIO spent more than $9 million, the most since at least 1999, the earliest year quarterly lobbying spending is available online for the two organizations.

The groups spent their lobbying dollars on some of the issues that generated big headlines of 2017: the new law that rewrote the tax code. Legislation concerning drug pricing. Right-to-try. Drug importation. Accelerated pathways for drug approvals. Policy issues around incentives to encourage development of drugs for rare diseases. And the confirmation of Alex Azar, President Trump’s pick to lead the Health and Human Services Department. 

 

Click here (subscription required) to see the TOP 15 Pharma company lobbyists!

Pharma Guy's insight:

This swamp will never be drained! The "PharmaGovernment Complex" is alive and well!

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Pharma “Patient Centricity” Aids & Abets the Opioid Epidemic

Pharma “Patient Centricity” Aids & Abets the Opioid Epidemic | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

The machinations of Washington are complex, but it’s hard to overstate the influence — often behind the scenes — of lobbyists. For years, the opioid industry has been funding nonprofit organizations that promote patient access to their drugs. These medical organizations pushed for Congress to approve Marino’s Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act, which serves the interests of major drug distributors and retailers.

 

On Jan. 26, 2015, a number of organizations nominally interested in ensuring legitimate access to pain medication wrote to Marino, Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Judy Chu, D-Calif., praising their fight for the now controversial legislation. They argued that the country needs need a balanced approach to the opioid abuse crisis that ensures access for pain patients while stopping drug abusers. Among the groups were the Alliance for Patient Access, which describes itself as “a national network of physicians dedicated to ensuring patient access to approved therapies and appropriate clinical care” and the American Academy of Pain Management (since renamed the Academy of Integrative Pain Management), which describes itself as an organization advancing “integrative pain care approaches” defined by the National Institute of Health.

 

As of June 2017, the Alliance for Patient Access’ list of associate members and financial supporters contains over two dozen pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer and Purdue Pharma. The latter’s marketing practices have been blamed for fueling the opioid epidemic.

 

“Federal agencies, law enforcement, pharmaceutical industry participants and prescribers each play a role in working diligently to prevent drug abuse and diversion,” they wrote. “However, it is also imperative that legitimate patients are able to obtain their prescriptions without disruption.”

 

Andrew Kolodny, the co-director of opioid policy research at Brandeis University, said this argument — that legitimate pain medication patients should not pay the price for the fight against drug abuse — is how the opioid lobby has framed (and continues to frame) the issue of prescription abuse from the beginning.

 

“These pain organizations make the case for the opioid lobby. But if you scratch the surface, you’ll find that the pain organizations that signed the letter are receiving money from the opioid lobby,” Kolodny told Yahoo News.

 

Kolodny said the opioid lobby often uses “phony front groups” to support its efforts in blocking any reduction in prescribing — and uses them very effectively.

 

An explosive investigation by the Washington Post and “60 Minutes” released Sunday revealed that Marino had accepted large donations from the pharmaceutical industry while pressing for the legislation that they favored (read “How Congress Allied with Drug Company Lobbyists to Derail the DEA’s War on Opioids”; http://sco.lt/6j9dAn).

 

The next day, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, announced that she would introduce legislation to repeal the law.

 

Further Reading:

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Right After Trump Blamed High Drug Prices On Campaign Contributions, #Pharma Gave More

Right After Trump Blamed High Drug Prices On Campaign Contributions, #Pharma Gave More | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

“The cost of medicine in this country is outrageous,” President Donald Trump said at a rally in Louisville, Ky., two months after his inauguration. He went on about how identical pills have vastly lower price tags in Europe (read “Trump's Comments Are Big Pharma's Nightmare”; http://sco.lt/8QzAsT).

 

“You know why?” the president asked, before spreading his hands wide. “Campaign contributions, who knows. But somebody is getting very rich.”

 

It was March 20, 2017.

 

The next day, drugmakers donated more money to political campaigns than they had on any other day in 2017 so far, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis of campaign spending in the first half of the year reported in Federal Election Commission filings.

 

This KHN story also ran in HuffPost. It can be republished for free (details).

Eight pharmaceutical political action committees made 134 contributions, spread over 77 politicians, on March 21. They spent $279,400 in all, showering Republicans and Democrats in both legislative bodies with campaign cash, according to FEC filings. The second-highest one-day contribution tally was $203,500, on June 20.

 

  • Further Reading:
  • Public Citizen's Challenge to Trump’s ‘One-In, Two-Out’ Executive Order on Regulations; http://sco.lt/78KV6X
  • “Big Pharma (@PhRMA) Stands Behind Trump Even As He Vows to Lower Prices to Medicare”; http://sco.lt/5461NB
Pharma Guy's insight:

LOL!

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Opioid Drug Maker Mallinckrodt Spends Big Lobbying Lawmakers About Opioids

Opioid Drug Maker Mallinckrodt Spends Big Lobbying Lawmakers About Opioids | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Two federal investigations — one examining opioid sales, another about a multiple sclerosis drug whose price had soared to $34,000 a vial — were only part of the troubles Mallinckrodt faced as the year began.

The stock of the drug maker, whose United States headquarters are in St. Louis, was tanking. Wall Street worried that Medicare might reduce the half-billion dollars it was spending yearly on a Mallinckrodt drug with limited evidence of effectiveness.

This year, the company left the industry trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, after the group threatened to kick out companies that did not spend enough on research.

Mallinckrodt, however, has been increasing its spending in another area: It has been writing checks to politicians.

After making meager donations in 2015, the company’s political action committee began raising its contributions for congressional campaigns last year. Lawmakers in both the House and Senate collected $44,000 from Mallinckrodt in 2017’s first quarter, nearly nine times what they got from the company in the same period two years ago.

Mallinckrodt also spent $610,000 lobbying Congress, triple the amount of 2015’s first quarter. The company, which makes pain-control drugs as well as H. P. Acthar, an injectable gel prescribed for multiple sclerosis and other diseases, has lobbied on issues related to opioids, patents, Medicare and other matters, regulatory filings show.

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The Who's Who of "Health Care" (i.e., Pharma) Lobbyists, 2017 vs 2016 Budgets

The Who's Who of "Health Care" (i.e., Pharma) Lobbyists, 2017 vs 2016 Budgets | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Drug companies dug deep into their lobbying piggy banks in President Trump's first quarter, but they weren't the only health care companies or trade groups that increased their budgets in Washington. Here's a list of the top 25 spenders and how much they budgeted for health care lobbying, based on an Axios review of the Senate lobbying database.

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Pharma’s 2016 Lobbying Spend: Will 2017 Be Less?

Pharma’s 2016 Lobbying Spend: Will 2017 Be Less? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

In his harsh comments about the drug industry at a press conference earlier this month, President Trump declared that “pharma has a lot of lobbies and a lot of lobbyists and a lot of power.”

 

But how much, exactly? STAT analyzed lobbying disclosure filings updated this week to build an in-depth portrait of how the drug industry wielded its influence on the federal government in 2016.

 

All told, the industry’s two big trade groups spent a collective $29 million lobbying the federal government last year. And the top 15 pharma companies (by one measure) collectively spent an additional $80 million. Both figures are roughly consistent with 2015.

 

The big drug industry trade group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, spent $19.6 million lobbying the federal government in 2016, up 7 percent over 2015.

Pharma Guy's insight:

PhRMA may have learned a couple of lessons from Trump: (1) eschew traditional influence channels and (2) appeal directly to the masses. Translation: rely less on lobbying lawmakers and spend more on direct-to-consumer lobbying; i.e., ads as in this campaign: http://sco.lt/5qCLEP

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PhRMA Deploys Scientists & Patients as Lobbyists on Capitol Hill

PhRMA Deploys Scientists & Patients as Lobbyists on Capitol Hill | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

The new head of D.C.’s biggest drug lobby has a strategy to help overcome a tortuous year of bad publicity on pricing: More lab coats on Capitol Hill. 

Steve Ubl, president and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Researcher and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA), plans to deploy top scientists and researchers to meet with lawmakers in a potentially make-or-break year for the industry. 

The offices on Capitol Hill will also get facetime with the patients who have benefited from some of the newest, and most costly, drugs. 
It’s a marked shift for a drug lobby that Ubl acknowledged has “focused on defense” since it became a political target during the early days of the Affordable Care Act, and even more recently, during the fierce debate over drug pricing.

“I think it's fair to say this represents a bit of a pivot for the organization. We’re going to develop a proactive policy agenda, and we’re going to drive it,” Ubl said in an interview in his downtown D.C. office this month. 

“The industry has had a bit of a bunker mentality,” added Ubl, PhRMA’s first new CEO in six years. 

“Our industry has become an easy political target,” Kenneth Frazier, the president and CEO of Merck & Co., who is a member of PhRMA’s board, said this month. “We’ve seen politicians from both sides of the aisle singling out our industry as the source of the problem.”

As drug pricing heats up on both sides of the 2016 campaign, PhRMA has been hitting the airwaves to offer a brighter side of the business. In February, the company announced a multi-million ad campaign called “From Hopes to Cures” in D.C., aimed at lawmakers. 

Pharma Guy's insight:

God bless the dedicated researchers and scientists of the pharmaceutical industry! They are truly the unsung heroes of the pharmaceutical industry! No longer are they are sequestered in their labs!

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Giuseppe Fattori's curator insight, March 28, 2016 10:46 AM

God bless the dedicated researchers and scientists of the pharmaceutical industry! They are truly the unsung heroes of the pharmaceutical industry! No longer are they are sequestered in their labs!

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PhRMA Exploits, er, Features 5-Year-Old with Diabetes in "Hope" Ad Campaign.

PhRMA Exploits, er, Features 5-Year-Old with Diabetes in "Hope" Ad Campaign. | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Pharma's image has been sagging lately, so the leading U.S. trade group is trying for a facelift. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) is kicking off a new ad campaign aimed at polishing up pharma's tarnished rep.


The campaign, called "From Hope to Cures," is a "several million dollar" effort that features the themes "hope," "courage," "solvable" and "achievable" to tell the story of fighting serious diseases.


The first ad features two patients, 5-year-old Rhys, who has Type 1 diabetes and Jamie, a woman living with a rare blood cancer. A researcher named Jennifer who is wearing goggles and a Merck lab coat also makes an appearance.


At the beginning of the ad, Jennifer stands in front of a white board with the word "unsolvable" scrawled across the middle. Jamie stands on the beach with the word "discourage" written in the sand," and Rhys looks at the word "hopeless" spelled out in blue building blocks on the living room floor.


Jennifer then erases the white board, saying, "thanks to new treatments…," and Jamie and Rhys chime in "we're fighting back." Jamie wipes out the words in the sand and Rhys knocks down the blocks. "Today, more than 7,000 new medicines are being developed around the world," Jennifer says as the does lab work. "Every day brings us closer to a cure," Jennifer says at the end of the ad, with the word "solvable" written behind her on the white board. Jamie stands by the word "courage" in the sand and Rhys sits by the word "hope" spelled out in blocks.


Pharma Guy's insight:

This is part of PhRMA's pledge to spend several million dollars this year, and 10% more than in 2015, on digital, radio and print ads that emphasize the industry’s role in developing new drugs and advancing medical science. It also plans to spend more money lobbying and donated to political campaigns. For more on that, read "#Pharma Ramps Up Ads & Lobbying to Fend Off Rx Pricing Regulation"; http://sco.lt/5m9c9J 

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#Pharma PACs & People Give $ to Clinton and Bush

#Pharma PACs & People Give $ to Clinton and Bush | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it
OpenSecrets.org groups campaign donations by industry here. Find out who oil and gas industry's favorite political candidate is or how much have public sector unions donated to Democrats. And more.


METHODOLOGY: The numbers on this page are based on contributions from PACs and individuals giving $200 or more.

All donations took place during the 2015-2016 election cycle and were released by the Federal Election Commission on Friday, October 16, 2015.

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Howard Dean Now Working As #BigPharma Lobbyist

Howard Dean Now Working As #BigPharma Lobbyist | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it
Howard Dean, the former champion of progressive values, has shown his true colors by becoming a healthcare lobbyist and completely reversing his position on single-payer healthcare (which he now says is a bad idea.) Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discusses this.
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Watch John Oliver absolutely destroy Dr. Oz

Watch John Oliver absolutely destroy Dr. Oz | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

This past week has been rather embarrassing for celebrity health guru Mehmet Oz — or just Dr. Oz to fans. He was taken to task in front of Senate for selling, in his own words, a "magic weight loss cure for every body type." Oz's testimony was mainly a whirlwind of self-contradiction, telling Senators that there was no such magical cure after all.


Last night, John Oliver walked through the highlights of the proceedings, adding, "If you want to keep spouting this bullshit, that's fine, but don't call your show Dr. Oz. Call it Check his Shit Out with some Guy Named Mehmet."

But Oliver's main complaint here isn't with the weight loss-peddling doctor. It's with the organizations, lawmakers, lobbyists and the powerful dietary supplement industry that allow him to do that. "Dr. Oz is just a symptom of the problem," he said, explaining the relative and terrifying freedom that supplement companies have when it comes to giving us things like Dr. Oz's snake oil.

Pharma Guy's insight:


Once again, it's the fake news shows that inform us more about the issues than real news shows. Oliver does a great job, BTW, of explaining why the FDA cannot regulate dietary substances. For more on that, read: If FDA were as Powerful as FTC

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