Drugmakers for Health Reform

For years, many politicians — a large number of them Democrats — have decried the influence of pharmaceutical companies on health-care policy and denounced them collectively as a special interest group. Now, it seems, their relationship with the industry has become more friendly.


As the debate over health-care reform heats up this summer — sometimes reaching an especially fierce level — the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the industry’s main lobbying group, has authorized spending $150 million on television advertisements to support the Democrats’ reform proposals. According to an Associated Press article, for comparison, Senator John McCain spent $84 million on his fall general election campaign for president last year. The PhRMA’s biggest advertising push is set to begin around Labor Day.

According to some speculation, the industry’s support for reform is based on the expectation that if legislation extends prescription drug coverage to more Americans, more prescriptions will be filled and profits will increase. But there are also suspicions that an agreement between PhRMA and the Obama administration announced a few weeks ago — that the industry would cut $80 billion in drug costs over 10 years — is a sign that the industry expects no further threats to its profits from Congress in return for supporting reform efforts. Many Democrats in Congress have expressed support, for example, for allowing Medicare to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies to lower the program’s drug costs, but it is not clear whether any such provision will be included in health-care reform legislation .

What do you think — is it appropriate for leaders in Congress or for the White House to negotiate with industry lobbyists? Should pharmaceutical companies have a say in what kind of health-care reform Congress passes? Is it a good thing for companies to agree to concessions, or is this the wrong approach to reform? Should lobbyists be able to play the role they currently do in Washington? Leave a comment below!

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  • Uncle Buck

    This is an example of what is wrong with our government. Wonder how much they will donate to the election campaign coffers.
    This is an example of what the French author, de Touqueville wrote. He said that the American (USA) experiment would continue until it’s citizens found they could vote themselves largess paid for by their fellow citizen’s.

  • M L Shannon

    Coverge is great; but people need to not just have blinders on thinking, insurance coverage, coverage, coverage. People need to think who will pay, how will it be paid, who will suffer from this great thing. Read the bill before you decide to follow the heard to enact the bill. It might hae too many negative strings. After all, it is not just the president, it is the senate, the house, the Clinton people advising the president, and others involved lobbying. I have been without insurance, I have been a cancer patient; so don’t tell me the woes of no coverage. Too much, too fast, not planned well. Most of the things coming out of the Congress have been shoved upon us costing many bucks. Also it is not a political party thing, just common sense.

  • Rosemary

    NO NO NO !!!!!

  • Louise Brown

    No they should not have a say. The people of the U. S. should have the same insurance as the Senate and Congress, then we would all be happy.

  • Theresa N

    My husbands company canceled all the employees health insurance. I’m a diabetic and he has hepatitis c. We live in a state that the insurance companys don’t have to cover us because of our prexisting. Our doctors dropped us because we no longer have insurance. We go to new doctors who complain that we don’t have insurance (even the office staff has hassled us about this.) The new doctor changed my insulin to a generic, HE said I couldn’t afford the name brand any more. SIGN ME UP for Obama health care.

  • Uncle Mel

    What are they agreeing to? So far as I can tell nobody seems to know what is in the bill(s). My Rep hasn’t even read the proposed legislation he supports. I do not trust the drug companies, and their support of the legislation makes me even less likely to support it. It is all about money, power, and control. And you can bet that the patient isn’t going to have any of it when this deal is done.

  • Israel H

    Another reason not to nationalize health care, but to patch what we have. Problems don’t get solved by being taken over by government, they just change.
    Drug companies aren’t stupid. They know that if they support the plan, and support the politicians, the “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” effect will keep them wealthy. Perhaps they’ll be protected from lawsuits. Perhaps drugs will be fast-tracked, so their research and development costs won’t be so prohibitive. Perhas they’ll be guaranteed a profit from newly developed drugs. Either way, they win. Do we?

  • P J Daly

    Free enterprise built and is the backbone of our economy. To a point. When advantage is taken of those who must have a product ( and drugs are not the only category) to the point of their detriment, then greed has set in. Greed is what needs to be addressed. Maybe setting a limit to profits gained in certain areas. You may remember a pill given to sheep at a cost of $0.21 a pill was found to address certain symptoms in humans. The cost rose to $55.00 a dose. Now that is shameful greed. Not that Obama’s answer is the best but it is a start. All the allarmists raising all the horror stories are in part just a bid for status quo and that will ruin us for sure.
    Our democracy (which should be a Republis as it was founded)is in trouble. Although I don’t agree with Obama 100% there is merit in what he wants to change, and change is truly what we need. Without it we are on a downward spiral of the old politic/big business brotherhood bleeding the country dry.

  • Charlotte

    I believe that that money could be spent better, reducing the cost of drugs.

    I am not in favor of the Obabma health care. I don’t think Obama knows what is covered under the health care he is proposing. He is changing this country, with too much debt, and I am not in favor of it.

  • Nancy Blue

    Obama’s health plan will cost us so much money in taxes and we will recieve care that is poor and many of the older people will recieve less care. Just look at the Plan D drug coverage. The ones that benefited from that is the insurance industry. Fortunately at this time I have exceptionally good medical coverage at about $600 per month. If you are over 60 you need good coverage because the cost of treat and prescription is rising at an astronomical rate. It is not fair that the pay to doctors is not equal across the country. I hope that Obama’s plan fails just as Hillary’s plan failed. We do not need government to run health care but we do need regulation on the health care industry particulary insurance companies. Why would the same drug be in three different tiers?

  • Rhett W

    What is the big deal? What is new here? Lobbists have always been in the deep pockets of our leaders. Proven rule to live by, “when in doudt follow the money” Yes Pharmaceutial company will make big money. Universities will make big dollars from grants from tax payers to study Global warming. The Rich will find a way to pass their higher tax load on to others. Just follow the money and you will alway find out who wins or loses. Most times it’s us the consumer.

  • Linda T

    I have TriCare (military) coverage. Because the government has negotiated with drug companies for controlled costs I pay $24 every 3 months for all my meds (6). Yes, we need a government option in health care. Yes there is a formulary limiting exactly what drugs I can get. Yes many of my drugs are generic. I don’t care. I get the drugs I need. So could millions of low income people get what they need.

  • Claudia

    I personally hate the idea of the govenment being this involved in my healthcare. Or, much of anything else for that matter. I deplore Obama’s ideas; they are going to again affect the working middle class. I don’t care what he says! Money doesn’t grow on trees. I think we need to stop the hemorrhaging of our healthcare dollars being spent so freely on the illegal aliens and medicaid folks that pay nothing for their healthcare. This country is in a world of hurt and people need to start taking things into their own hands. We need to start taking responsibility for ourselves and stop expecting the government to bail us out of every problem that many of us get ourselves into! For heaven sakes…millions of low income people get what they need everyday! They use the ER for clinics and abuse the system all the time. I don’t believe in “free healthcare” There is no such thing as, “Free anything”!

  • Roy Gorman

    I’m not sure if anyone is asking the right questions.
    The house bill is over 1000 pages, but I have yet to hear anyone ask “Who wrote it?”. Can anyone point to a Congressperson or staff that wrote it and ask them questions about what is in it. A bill that size does not just show up out of the blue.

    The President talks about his plan, but has anyone asked to see it in writing? To the best of my knowledge, no written plan has been promulgated by the President. How can you discuss a plan that hasn’t been written. No one in the media or congress has asked to see it apparently.

    I am also very suspicious when large corporations (or any group for that matter) spend huge amounts of money pushing for a program that is not well understood. There has to be a lot more going on in the background than what is being reported.

  • Donna C

    Obama started his campaign to reform the American health care system by declaring that he wanted to cover the uninsured (a number he overstated). His plan won’t do that. Then he started saying he wanted to lower the cost of healthcare. His plan won’t do that, either. (He actually meant price, not cost, since he is not addressing the costs that are making prices rise.) Now he is putting the blame on the insurance companies. He wants us to put our healthcare in the hands of the people who run the post office and Medicare. Is it any wonder that we don’t trust him?

    The proposed healthcare reform bill will bankrupt America and lead to a rapid deterioration of our health care system. Don’t let this happen!

  • Linda, the Pharmacist

    As with most government legislation, the majority of the cost of this plan will be spent on the bureaucrasy to manage it. Wouldn’t that money be better spent on direct patient care and benefits? Tax breaks for insurance premiums and grants to community free clinics would be more efficient. And where in the constitution does it say that the it is the duty of the government to provide heath care?