2020, what a year it has been. We welcome 2021 and wish health, hope, and happiness to you all.
1. Candidates’ Campaign Promises
- During the 2020 election cycle, patients called on candidates to lay out their plans for taking on Big Pharma and fighting to lower prescription drug prices. In November, voters across the country elected candidates on both sides of the aisle who promised to stand with patients. Now, as the 117th Congress prepares to be sworn in and President-elect Biden readies his administration to take office, patient advocates will be holding them accountable to make sure they deliver on their campaign promises.
2. Taxpayer-Funded Light At The End Of The Tunnel
- It has been an unprecedented pandemic, but in many ways, we saw the same old Big Pharma tactics to line executives’ pockets and rake in the cash. As the COVID-19 pandemic grew, the U.S. government and other nations around the world pumped billions into research and development for treatments and vaccines. Now pharmaceutical companies are predicting billions in revenue thanks to treatments and vaccines funded by taxpayers, and company executives have been cashing in, selling hundreds of millions of dollars in stock. At P4ADNow, we’re grateful for the vaccines that are rolling out — we all desperately need them. But when it comes to vaccine development, pharma should be thanking taxpayers for picking up the tab.
3. Big Pharma’s Lies Spectacularly Revealed
- A bombshell pair of hearings in the House Oversight Committee bore the fruits of an 18-month investigation into drug industry pricing practices launched by the late Chairman Elijah Cummings. The investigationdebunked pharma’s talking points that drug prices must be kept high to allow for important innovation. Internal documents from five big drug companies, Celgene, Teva, Amgen, Novartis, and Mallinckrodt, revealed a culture of greed that linked price hikes directly to increased company revenue and executive bonuses. Company executives were forced to face the impact of their price gouging when four patients shared their drug pricing stories at the hearings. The investigation is continuing into 2021; Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney announced her intent to subpoena industry behemoth AbbVie next.
4. Business As Usual
- The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t make the issue of high drug prices go away — it made it worse. The pandemic has caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs, and with it their incomes and access to health insurance. This year could have been an opportunity for Big Pharma to exercise restraint when it came to drug prices; instead, it was price hikes as usual for the industry. Since the beginning of the year, drug corporations have hiked the prices of more than 1,000 drugs. Those drugs include medications being used to treat COVID-19 symptoms, tested to fight the virus itself, and prescribed to treat diseases that put people at risk of complications from the virus. It brings a whole new meaning to “cashing in on a crisis.”
5. Patients Speak, Work Toward Change
- Even in the midst of a global pandemic, patients continued to fight for drug pricing reform — sharing their stories across the country with members of Congress at roundtables, virtual town halls, and press conferences; in support of state legislation; and with the press. Big Pharma may be spending record amounts to keep its profits high, but we’ve got the voices of tens of thousands of patients behind us, and we’re going into 2021 fighting.