Drug Makers Hike Prices, Lobby Hard As Reform Efforts Progress
Drug makers are bracing for reform by raising their prices by 9 percent in the last year, perhaps the fastest rate since 1992, The New York Times reports. This happened "even as drug makers promise to support Washington's health care overhaul by shaving $8 billion a year off the nation's drug costs after the legislation takes effect." The increases "will add more than $10 billion to the nation's drug bill, which is on track to exceed $300 billion this year."
"Drug makers say they have valid business reasons for the price increases. Critics say the industry is trying to establish a higher price base before Congress passes legislation that tries to curb drug spending in coming years" (Wilson, 11/15).
In a separate story, the Times reports that Genentech, a subsidiary the Swiss drug maker Roche, succeeded in getting "estimates that 42 House members picked up some of its talking points - 22 Republicans and 20 Democrats, an unusual bipartisan coup for lobbyists." The remarks appeared in the Congressional Record.
"Statements by more than a dozen lawmakers were ghostwritten, in whole or in part, by Washington lobbyists working for Genentech, one of the world's largest biotechnology companies. E-mail messages obtained by The New York Times show that the lobbyists drafted one statement for Democrats and another for Republicans." The statements emphasized that a provision regulating the FDA's power to approve generic biotechnology drugs that came out favorably for companies like Genentech would help preserve American jobs.
"The statements were not intended to change the bill, which was not open for much amendment during the debate. They were meant to show bipartisan support for certain provisions, even though the vote on passage generally followed party lines" (Pear, 11/14).