With President Donald Trump’s administration crusading to lower drug costs for consumers, many major pharmaceutical giants have cut down on their lobbying costs in the second quarter of 2018 due to the persisting uncertainty.
The federal government revealed on Friday a fall in the spending by 7.7% between April and June by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. Several companies decided to set lobbying records pertaining to Trump’s efforts to lower medicine costs, while Bayer Corp and Johnson & Johnson reduced their spending since the first quarter of 2018.
Merck & Co. reduced its lobbying costs by 57.9% from last year, however Pfizer Inc. spent $1.94 million on Washington lobbying which is 2.1% over its last year’s lobbying expenses.
“American Patients First” a blueprint published in May by Alex Azar, the Health and Human Services secretary entailed government’s plans of tackling out- of- pocket costs by introducing incentives for drug manufacturers and blocking government based health programs from acquiring deep discounts. AbbVie Inc. which is a pharmaceutical trade group lobbied on this blueprint.
The latest proposal submitted by Azar on Wednesday to the White House did not receive support from the drug companies. The proposal suggested cutting rebates granted to pharmacy- benefit managers and insurers.
Earlier this month after Trump called out Pfizer Inc. based in New York on Twitter for “merely taking advantage of the poor”, due to which Pfizer decided to postpone increasing its drug’s prices, even though all across the industry prices are still increasing.
Vasant Narsimhan, CEO of Swiss based drug manufacturing firm Novartis told Bloomberg that in the present scenario of uncertainty it would be wise not to increase drug prices and retain the “value- based pricing” of drugs. It has decreased its spending on lobbyists in the second quarter from $3.28 million to $860,000.
In order to gain insights about the administration’s health- care policy, Novartis had said to have entered in a deal with a consulting firm that was headed by Trump’s past personal lawyer, Michael Cohen for a fee of $1.2 million. Amid this controversy, the company’s top lawyer took the fall by stepping down from his position while Narsimhan declared the entire matter a “mistake”.