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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PhRMA Plans to Seize Control of Public Narrative Over Drug Prices with Massive Ad Campaign

PhRMA Plans to Seize Control of Public Narrative Over Drug Prices with Massive Ad Campaign | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Washington’s powerful drug lobby is gearing up to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a post-election ad war pushing back against politicians from both parties who have savaged its members over drug prices.

 

The massive campaign by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) — expected to start positive by highlighting drugs that save or prolong lives — will dwarf the $20 million that health insurers spent on the iconic "Harry and Louise" campaign credited with sinking Hillary Clinton's health reform plan in the early 1990s.

 

And that’s just one part of a larger effort by the K Street lobbying powerhouse to seize control of the public narrative over drug prices and to reassert its dominance in Washington after several years in which it has taken a public shellacking over prices, with even reliable political allies in Congress questioning its pricing strategies. Both Clinton and Donald Trump, for instance, are urging changes in the law that would allow the government to negotiate drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries.

 

PhRMA wants to drive a broader discussion on health costs, emphasizing that other players must play a role in tamping down costs and offering to work with insurers and others to find solutions, senior company officials and lobbyists said.

"The reality and the message and the playbook used for a number of years is over," said Bill Pierce, senior director of the public affairs firm APCO Worldwide, which represents several drug companies, and a former HHS official under President George W. Bush.

 

The industry can no longer defend high drug prices by pointing to the pricey research and development that goes into innovative medicines. "They have to move on," he said.

 

Drug companies are used to Democrats attacking prices, but Republicans are also starting to chide the industry for large hikes on old drugs and raising concerns about the financial burden that prescription drugs place on entitlement programs.

 

Just last week, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) expressed concern that drug companies "might be exploiting" Medicare's prescription drug benefit "to maximize their market share." The program's catastrophic coverage requires the government to pick up the tab for most patients' drug costs after $4,850 per year — spending which has increased by 85 percent in three years.

 

Those and other calls — including the demand by both presidential candidates that Medicare negotiate drug prices — have awakened a sleeping giant, which routinely spends more on lobbying than any other health care group and took in more than $200 million in member dues in 2014, compared to about $80 million for the American Hospital Association and about $41 million for America's Health Insurance Plans.

 

The group's playbook for 2017 includes adding new members, raising dues and retooling a lobbying machine that insiders say atrophied since PhRMA achieved many of its top goals with Obamacare's passage. Now it's ready to shout its message not just inside the corridors of power but beyond the Beltway.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Also read “#Pharma Ramps Up Ads & Lobbying to Fend Off Rx Pricing Regulation”; http://sco.lt/5m9c9J

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National Political Convention Viewers Saw a Lot of #pharma Ads

National Political Convention Viewers Saw a Lot of #pharma Ads | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Democratic politicians made a few jabs at the pharmaceutical industry at their convention this week, but viewers tuning in at home saw something of a counterargument during commercial breaks: a stream of ads promoting drugs — and the drug industry.

 

Pfizer, for instance, ran 25 ads across all six major networks carrying the Democratic National Convention, according to the media research firm iSpot.tv.

 

Some of those ads promoted Pfizer’s erectile disfunction drug Viagra. But others took a more unusual tack, emphasizing how hard it is to make medicines by tallying how many protein structures must be counted and sleepless nights endured before a new drug makes it to market. (Pfizer took out a full-page ad with a similar message in the New York Times as the convention kicked off on Monday.)

 

BIO, one of the big drug industry trade groups, offered a similar message about the importance of the pharmaceutical industry to delegates and dignitaries at the convention. An emotional video heralding the power of prescription drugs to extend lives played on the jumbotron at a charity batting practice Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies.

 

Aside from the Pfizer campaigns, other ads in heavy circulation included a spot for Celgene’s psoriasis drug Otezla, which ran 13 times on CNN and MSNBC. Novo Nordisk’s diabetes drug Victoza and AbbVie’s blockbuster drug Humira were also advertised heavily on MSNBC.

 

All told, about 140 TV ads touting prescription and over-the-counter medicines and their manufacturers ran while the Democratic National Convention was airing on broadcast and cable networks, according to iSpot.tv.

 

By comparison, about 60 such ads aired across networks during the Republican National Convention last week, the iSpot data show. But it’s hard to say whether drug advertisers made a bigger push this week, since coverage was scheduled differently, and the data from the RNC did not include ads broadcast on MSNBC.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Well, it could be just a chance to get in front of millions of older viewers that fit the drug industry's demographic sweet spot. In any case, pharma Enjoys Wide Bipartisan Support; http://sco.lt/8CDDHt

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The Other 98% Call Out DNC and RNC On Their “Buy-Partisan” Support of Pharma

The Other 98% Call Out DNC and RNC On Their “Buy-Partisan” Support of Pharma | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Anti-Pharma activists fired a shot across the DNC’s bow today by running a full-page ad in the Philadelphia Daily News calling out Democrats (and Republicans) on their collusion with drug corporations. The satirical ad features the voice of a character called Big Pharma Bro, a fictional drug company CEO who loves to brag about the monopolies he owns on life-saving medicines thanks to the money he invests in lobbying and political contributions.

 

The ad was placed by Other98 Action, a nonprofit dedicated to eliminating the influence of corporate dollars on the American political system. “Pharma gets incredible ‘buy-partisan’ support in Congress,” said John Sellers, Executive Director of Other98. “Republicans didn’t get us into this situation alone; we’re reminding all politicians that if they want our votes, then they’d better break up with Big Pharma and fight for the American people.”

 

BigPharmaBro.com takes on issues from the astounding amount of money drug corporations spend on Capitol Hill (more than any other industry), to the monopolies they are given on life-saving medicines (after American taxpayers foot most of the bill for the invention of new drugs), to the obscene profits that drug corporations make by operating like hedge funds. Visitors are encouraged to sign a petition demanding that America’s next President dramatically reduce the price of medicines invented with taxpayer money.

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#Pharma's Drug Price Blame Game: Politics (Clinton Especially) & The Media

#Pharma's Drug Price Blame Game: Politics (Clinton Especially) & The Media | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Drug industry executives don’t get it: They’re not supposed to be the bad guys.

That was the feeling that seemed to permeate the annual meeting of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which gathered here this week amid withering scrutiny from politicians and the public.

The blame was spread around. Political candidates don’t understand how drug prices work. Neither does the public. The media isn’t helping, of course, focusing on outlandish characters like Martin Shkreli who don’t represent the bulk of a $300 billion industry.

“The headlines don’t tell the full story,” said Kenneth Frazier, Merck CEO and chair of PhRMA’s board, said to open the meeting Wednesday.

Stephen Ubl, PhRMA’s new president and CEO, was even more blunt. He alluded to a tweet from Hillary Clinton, announcing a forthcoming plan to combat price-gouging for medications. Some analysts blamed the tweet for a $132 billion loss in biotech investment.

Ubl was indignant.

“As we all know, the debate is largely myopic and misinformed,” he said. “The debate also ignores the value our products bring to patients, the health care system and the broader economy.”

“You wouldn’t know it from the headlines,” Ubl added. “The value is barely a footnote in these stories.”

Pharma Guy's insight:

Also read: "Merck CEO Repeats Same Old Defense for Raising Prices of #Pharma Drugs"; http://sco.lt/7eHLIf 

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Who Presidential Candidates Blame for High Healthcare Costs

Who Presidential Candidates Blame for High Healthcare Costs | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

The United States far out spends peer countries on healthcare. When American politicians complain about these high healthcare costs, they often vilify pharmaceutical and insurance companies for profiting at the expense of the general public. As I wrote earlier, such vilification is misguided, pushing too much of the blame on individual actors rather than on the system that incentivizes individuals to act those ways.


So what it is about the system that politicians believe is to blame for the staggering cost of medical care in the United States?

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Effective Marketing Can Cure Pharma's Election Issue Woes

Effective Marketing Can Cure Pharma's Election Issue Woes | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

If the pharmaceutical industry doesn't "Get out the Vote" for innovation this election cycle, the consequences will be stormy waters, not business as usual, with a concerted attack on industry that threatens to spook the markets, lower valuations, and distract senior management.


Pharma Guy's insight:

The author of this piece is just trying to drum up business and
suggests some political campaign strategies to be more effective marketers in this political climate. 


One piece of advice: Be Authentic. "This year’s buzz word to explain the popularity of unlikely presidential candidates is 'authenticity',” says the author. "There’s a lot to be said about what being authentic means, but for advertisers, maybe it’s time to take a look at some effective healthcare marketing campaigns that definitely qualify."


Unfortunately, none of the campaigns mentioned as being "authentic" come from the pharma industry. One is from Big Government and the other is from Big Medical Conglomerate.

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I'm NOT With Trump Against Big #Pharma, Says @John_LaMattina @Forbes

I'm NOT With Trump Against Big #Pharma, Says @John_LaMattina @Forbes | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

In a recent guest piece on STAT [read “One Physician Says Donald Trump Is Right About #Pharma”; http://sco.lt/6xx1mb], Dr. Charles D. Rosen enthusiastically supports Mr. Trump’s negative views on the pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Rosen, a clinical professor of orthopaedic surgery at UC Irvine, believes that the Republican presidential nominee is correct on some key issues including:

 

1) allowing Medicare to negotiate prices with drug companies;

 

2) allowing cheaper pharmaceutical drugs manufactured abroad to be sold in the U.S.

 

Both points are worthy of debate. Unfortunately, rather than provide thoughtful commentary, Dr. Rosen (who is also the president of the Association of Medical Ethics) goes into a variety of rants to support his views. For example, on Medicare drug price negotiations, a position that the Democratic candidate, Sec. Hillary Clinton also supports, rather than acknowledging the bipartisan backing of such a proposal, Dr. Rosen trashes Clinton’s credibility on following through with her publicly stated stance.

 

“Hillary Clinton, on the other hand accepted more cash from pharmaceutical companies in the first six months of her campaign than any other candidate in either party. This lessens the potency of her claims to take similar action and suggests yet again disingenuous declarations. If she claims to be such an enemy of Big Pharma, why then are they contributing to her campaign?………Unlike Hillary Clinton, whose campaign coffer is loaded with contributions from drug companies, Trump has barely dipped into that pot of besmirched gold. Yes, Trump is defying Republican dogma, but he’s honestly and forthrightly calling Big Pharma on its Big Baloney.”

 

Personally, given the outrage over drug prices and the growing calls for controlling Medicare costs, I would not be surprised to see legislation enacted in the next four years giving Medicare the ability to negotiate drug prices regardless of who is elected the 45th U.S. president. In fact, if anything the group NOT likely to support such legislation would be Republicans and not Democrats. Yet, rather than discuss the precedent for government drug price negotiations, as already happens with the Veterans Administration, Dr. Rosen chooses to delve into a Trump-like anti-Clinton attack. Sad.

 

The same can be said for Dr. Rosen’s views on drug importation. This is a great topic for discussion. Unfortunately, Dr. Rosen goes into another attack.

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High Drug Prices Notwithstanding, #Pharma Enjoys Wide Bipartisan Support

High Drug Prices Notwithstanding, #Pharma Enjoys Wide Bipartisan Support | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

You might think it would be awkward to be a drug industry lobbyist at a convention full of pharma-bashing Democrats. But for the innumerable drug reps who poured into town for a once-every-four-years schmoozing extravaganza, it didn’t seem to matter much that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has spent almost as much time as Sanders lambasting the industry on the trail, or that a single tweet of hers had sent pharma stocks tumbling last fall.

“I’ve not really gotten any blowback about the industry at receptions,” one lobbyist for a major drug company said. “But hopefully, people would realize that’s rude at a party.”

Another representative for a top firm also shrugged. “I really haven’t noticed it.”

Maybe it’s the heat?

The recent political firestorm wasn’t completely ignored at panel discussions and other events surrounding the convention. Jim Greenwood, president and chief executive officer of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, which represents biotech firms in Washington, warned about the danger of “price controls” everywhere he went.

He also acknowledged that, during a discussion with the Democratic Governors Association, he had been “a bit on the defensive.”

“When I have the opportunity to tell our story to governors and members of Congress, they are persuaded,” Greenwood told STAT. “But it is often an uphill struggle, because they frequently begin with assumptions like, ‘It’s not right that drugs cost more in the U.S. than in other countries,’ or ‘The cost of drugs is skyrocketing.’”

For the most part, though, drug and biotech lobbyists were as welcome in Philadelphia as anyone else. BIO has been handing out water bottles from a small truck it has been parking throughout the city — a clever branding strategy with temperatures soaring to 90 degrees and higher in the first couple of days of the convention.

The marketing professionals manning the truck told STAT they’d had no hecklers. Who’s going to turn down free water in this weather?

It is a reminder that, despite the rhetoric on the trail this year, drug companies have maintained their standing in Washington because they enjoy broad bipartisan support. Public frustration over drug costs hasn’t erased that.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Meanwhile, The Other 98% Call Out DNC and RNC On Their “Buy-Partisan” Support of Pharma; http://sco.lt/57I56P

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One Physician Says Donald Trump Is Right About #Pharma

One Physician Says Donald Trump Is Right About #Pharma | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

With Donald Trump finally ensconced as the Republican nominee for president, it’s high time to applaud his spot-on positions on the pharmaceutical industry.

 

As a physician, I believe that Trump is absolutely right about allowing cheaper pharmaceutical drugs manufactured abroad to be sold in the United States. He is right that the pharmaceutical companies essentially sell their products to the federal government via Medicare and Medicaid without competitive bidding. In other areas of the budget, such as defense, federal laws require competitive bidding. It is outrageous this doesn’t occur with drugs and devices, especially since the health care budget is right behind defense in terms of expense.

 

Trump is right when he says that drug companies control the landscape. He appears to be willing to call it as it is and not worry about repercussions from the powerful drug interests, and has moved in the right direction in saying he would let Medicare negotiate with pharmaceutical companies if he becomes president. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, accepted more cash from pharmaceutical companies in the first six months of her campaign than any other candidate in either party. This lessens the potency of her claims to take similar action and suggests yet again disingenuous declarations. If she claims to be such an enemy of Big Pharma, then why are they contributing to her campaign?

 

Trump looks at the world through the prism of commerce. The situation we are in with pharmaceuticals and medical devices makes no sense to him. As a physician, I think it’s near criminal that special interests come before my patients. The drug lobbies have succeeded in making the importation of prescription drugs illegal under various self-serving agendas, disguised as “for the public good” and “protecting the drug companies” so they can continue to innovate.

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Big #Pharma Likes Hillary. Sanders & Trump? Not So Much!

Big #Pharma Likes Hillary. Sanders & Trump? Not So Much! | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

The pharmaceutical industry has donated $589,344 to Hillary Clinton's campaign, according to the nonprofit research group Center for Responsive Politics. That's more than any other candidate — despite Clinton's proclamation that she's proud to call the pharmaceutical industry her enemy.

"Price gouging like this in the specialty market is outrageous," Clinton tweeted in September, referring to the now-infamous decision by Turing Pharmaceuticals to raise the price of a decades-old medicine by 5,000 percent overnight. "Tomorrow I'll lay out a plan to take it on."

That was Sept. 21. 


Clinton hasn't let up on drugmakers. Last week, she released a campaign ad directly targeting Valeant Pharmaceuticals, another pharmaceutical company in the crosshairs for hiking prices of old medicines (though Valeant has since run into other troubles).

The contributions in support of Clinton come mainly from individual donors who work for pharmaceutical companies, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. They may also include contributions from political action committees associated with drug companies.


And despite Clinton's antipharma rhetoric, some say she may actually be the industry's safest choice.

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#Pharma Loves Hillary, Hates Trump More Than Sanders! Money Talks...

#Pharma Loves Hillary, Hates Trump More Than Sanders! Money Talks... | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Pharmaceutical companies have donated nearly $1 million in the 2016 presidential election cycle, with Hillary Clinton receiving the most.


When former Turing Pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli announced that he was increasing the price of an HIV drug called Daraprim by nearly 5,000%, he turned the cost of prescription drugs into a political issue.

Shortly after Daraprim's price increase was made public, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton unveiled a prescription drug plan to drive prices down. Her Democratic challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders, sent a letter to Shkreli demanding an explanation for the price increase and when Shkreli donated to his campaign, Sanders took that donation and gave it to a health clinic. Republican candidate Donald Trump called Shkreli a "spoiled brat" and said "he ought to be ashamed of himself."


But despite all the drama and talk of standing up to the pharmaceutical industry, these companies continue to be big spenders, donating $951,018 to presidential candidates in the 2016 presidential election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics and the Federal Election Commission.



Pharma Guy's insight:

About one-third of all contributions from pharma is going to Clinton! I guess both Bernie and Donald do not need pharma's money!

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