“Regardless of the outcome in the coming weeks, this battle is not over,” Ubl said in an interview. “Few associations have all the tools of modern political advocacy at their disposal in the way that PhRMA does.”
Thursday’s letter largely echoes the arguments the industry has made throughout the process, with executives at companies including Pfizer and Merck saying that passing the legislation would lead to fewer treatments and cures — particularly for major illnesses such as developing cancer and Alzheimer’s disease that can be difficult and costly.
Ubl said one of PhRMA’s member companies has 15 drugs in the pipeline that would be destroyed if the bill becomes law.
“This is a very consistent vote. Members who vote in favor of this bill will not receive a free pass. We will do everything we can to hold them accountable,” he said.
It’s unclear when Senate Leader Chuck Schumer will bring the $740 billion reconciliation package to the table, and senators expect to stay over the weekend to resolve any issues and pass it on as soon as possible.
Much is at stake for the drug industry: Letting Medicare negotiate the cost of expensive drugs is expected to save the federal government more than $100 billion. The move would “put the US system on a course toward broad government control, leaving our country behind,” reads the letter sent to Congress on Thursday.
PhRMA has spent millions of dollars in the past two years lobbying for Democrats’ drug pricing reforms, and millions more on TV and digital advertising to influence public opinion. In the first six months of 2022, the group’s total lobbying effort spent more than $14.4 million, according to disclosure files.
Ubl declined to talk further about what sort of legal arguments would be brought to the table — “for fear that throwing our hand out would rule out future options” — or what changes might come from future regulations or legislation.
“My experience is that when a bill like this is pursued on a partisan basis, with narrow margins and deficiencies in due process, it rarely sticks,” he said, pointing to all the changes that have been made to the Affordable Care Act since the Act. its introduction. passage. “I expect that there will be opportunities in the future to further limit the damage of this legislation.”