Oct 8, 2019

In yet another example of how Big Pharma attempts to game the system, Bloomberg Government reports that six of the industry’s top brand name drug manufacturers “funneled more than $680 million into hundreds of nonprofits last year, including many now campaigning against federal legislation to tackle the rising cost of medicine.”

And while donating to these groups may seem generous, by delving a little deeper it’s clear that Big Pharma is merely exploiting yet another avenue as a means to pad its bottom line.  These “donations,” are nearly 25 times more than the industry’s lobbying arm spent the same year to directly influence Congress.  By instead funneling money to non-profits, Big Pharma is able to circumvent traditional lobbying reporting laws and can boost their credibility by hiding behind patient groups. As Bloomberg Government notes:

… [T]hese groups, which offer services that include co-pay and billing assistance as well as advice on navigating hospital and insurance rules, can carry more influence than a drug company because they speak with the voices of people struggling with serious illness, raising the prospect the companies’ support of them amounts to a form of secondhand lobbying.

“It can be difficult for a drug company to go through the front door and argue their case,” Matthew McCoy, an assistant professor in the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, said.  “It’s generally more effective to give money to patient organizations, which in general have a higher level of public approval than drug companies do.”

The large donations come as Congress has ramped up its efforts to hold drug makers accountable and lower prices for patients this year.

This is far from the first time Big Pharma used has sneaky tactics to boost its bottom line and fight against solutions to curb rising drug prices.  In August, The Economist dug into how brand name drug manufacturers use charities as a tool to boost their profits.  These charities create the illusion that they’re helping make costly drugs more accessible for patients, but in reality, Big Pharma’s generosity is just a scheme to further enable their price-gouging while continuing to put profits over people.

To read the full article in Bloomberg Government, click HERE.

To read the full article in The Economist, click HERE.

To read more on market-based solutions to hold Big Pharma accountable and lower prescription drug prices, click HERE.