Big pharma isn’t the only powerful player in the prescription drug pricing fight

Big pharma isn’t the only powerful player in the prescription drug pricing fight

Big pharma isn’t the only powerful player in the prescription drug pricing fight

By Theodoric Meyer and Jacqueline Alemany

Who will win? Few industries have lobbied harder to shape Democrats’ massive health care, child care and climate bill than the pharmaceutical industry, which has spent months working to kill the party’s plan to lower prescription drug prices.

But there’s also a well-funded counteroffensive being waged by powerful collection of patient groups, health insurers, hospitals, other health-care interests and AARP. And they’ve arguably won the first round.

The influential seniors’ lobby alone has spent more than $16 million so far this year on TV, radio and digital advertising urging lawmakers to include drug pricing reforms in the bill, according to AARP.

AARP has shelled out $8.5 million on lobbying on drug pricing and other issues in the first nine months of this year, according to disclosure filings — a little more than a third of the $22.4 million that Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the industry’s flagship trade group, has spent.

But, crucially, AARP has been able to rely on its tens of millions of members for lobbying help. When the White House earlier issued a framework for the bill excluding drug pricing, AARP members made more than 9,000 calls to congressional offices in one week.

As lawmakers return to Washington today to take up Democrats’ roughly $2 trillion package — while also working to stave off a government shutdown by Friday and finding a way to raise the debt limit in the coming weeks — the group has leaned into the imagery of taking on one of the most powerful players in Washington.

Big pharma isn’t the only powerful player in the prescription drug pricing fight