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 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 |

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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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 |

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


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


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;

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Drugmakers, Facing Pricing Criticism, Sell Cures in New Ads

Drugmakers, Facing Pricing Criticism, Sell Cures in New Ads | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

The spot starts dramatically with a 30-something-year-old man explaining, “Before it became a medicine, it was an idea, an inspiration, a wild what-if.” The scene duly set, the ad goes on to tell the story of the scientists at Pfizer who discovered, fought for, and brought to market the pill he had just shaken into his hand. “It became a medicine so someone who could not be cured could be — me,” he adds, swinging his son into his arms.


This Pfizer ad, Driven to Discover the Cure (read “Pfizer… Launches an Ad Campaign to Improve Its Rep”;, is one of several recent campaigns that seek to reinforce the idea that years of hard work — and heart — go into the development of new medicines. The campaigns present an image of the industry that clashes with the prevalent one — big bad pharma reaping profits hand over fist at the expense of a sick and underinformed public.


Many of these new campaigns focus on the parallel ideas of innovation and cures, despite the fact only a single class of drugs approved by the FDA in the last five years — a class led by Gilead Sciences' hepatitis-C drug Sovaldi — is considered a cure for a disease or condition.


But critics — among others, health insurers, hospital systems, pharmacy benefit managers, patient groups, and lawmakers — still believe new drugs are coming to market with excessively high price tags and the prices of old drugs are being marked up too much. Drugmakers counter they need the money they make from their therapies to reinvest in R&D.


PhRMA's From Hope to Cures campaign ( launched in 2014, but the multimillion-dollar effort introduced new elements in 2015 and again in August this year. Companies big and small have followed suit: Mallinckrodt, which markets specialty products such as the $35,000-per-dose MS drug Acthar, debuted an unbranded video campaign with a modest media buy that shares stories about patients, two of whom are the children of Mallinckrodt employees. On the other hand, Bristol-Myers Squibb's direct-to-consumer ad campaign for immuno-oncology drug Opdivo thanks the patients and physicians who participated in the therapy's clinical trial.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Related article: “The History of #Pharma Marketing from Cancer Cure Potions to ‘Cancer Cure’ Drugs”;


The drug industry still claims to have cured cancer. Read, for example, "Bayer's CEO Accuses Patients of Being Ungrateful B*stards! We Cured Cancer, Dammit!"; 

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Former Washington Pol, Now CEO of BIO, Says Insurers Discriminate Against #Pharma

Former Washington Pol, Now CEO of BIO, Says Insurers Discriminate Against #Pharma | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

"Our industry has become an easy scapegoat for the real and growing problem of patient access to affordable new medications," Jim Greenwood, chief executive officer of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, will say Wednesday at the group's convention in San Francisco, according to a copy of remarks obtained by Bloomberg News. "My friends, we are fighting back."


BIO planned to hand out fact sheets to attendees with talking points to be used in defense of the industry. One key focus will be an attempt to shift more responsibility to insurers, who have called attention to drugmakers' prices.


"Insurers have been throwing the pharma and biotech industry under the bus, which is short-sighted of them," Joshua Bilenker, CEO of Loxo Oncology Inc., said Saturday in an interview at the annual meeting of the American Society for Clinical Oncology in Chicago. "The insurance industry has squeezed the consumer to make them mad."


Insurers have instituted policies on drug reimbursement that harm patients, according to Greenwood's remarks.


"When insurers accept patients with pre-existing conditions -- only to refuse to cover innovative medications -- there's a name for that: It's discrimination," Greenwood, a former Republican congressman from Pennsylvania, plans to say.


Highlighting the frequency and costs of drugs that flop during development might not gain public sympathy, according to Washington Analysis' Loss.


"I'm not sure that the fact that they fail in a lot of the efforts they undertake would necessarily translate into the public feeling any compassion for the pricing, but it's certainly a story that needs to be told," he said.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Greenwood appears to put 100% of the blame on insurers and does not say anything about how much the drug industry - and especially Biotech companies - have raised drug prices recently (read, for example, “Rapid 164% Inflation in Price of Brand Name Drugs”;


BIO joins PhRMA in campaign to counteract negative press. For more on that, read: #Pharma Ramps Up Ads & Lobbying to Fend Off Rx Pricing Regulation; and PhRMA Exploits, er, Features 5-Year-Old with Diabetes in "Hope" Ad Campaign;

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