Trump Turns Back On Big Pharma, Pitting Republican Party Against Donors, ‘Axios’ Reports

Trump waves to media figures while holding an umbrella.
Chris Kleponis-Pool / Getty Images

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, big pharma Political Action Committees (PACs) have given nearly $9 million to the Republican Party in this election cycle alone.

In 2016, pharmaceutical industry lobby groups donated $11 million to Republican candidates across the country. In 2014 the number was slightly smaller: $9 million.

Evidently, big pharma has made a conscious effort to bankroll Republican politicians, but that could soon change.

Axios reports that President Donald Trump is turning his back on the pharmaceutical industry, and therefore pitting the Republican Party against some of its most generous donors.

This is a direct result of the Trump administration’s proposal to lower Medicare drug prices, as announced last week.

A significant departure from Washington’s former approach to the industry, according to Forbes, the Trump administration’s proposal would substantially reduce the price of certain costly medications.

The publication praised President Trump’s effort, but predicted that the pharmaceutical industry would fight to keep the system “rigged.”

According to Axios, pharmaceutical lobbyists are unnerved by the move.

“People are definitely kind of blindsided by it. They think, ‘Oh my gosh, this is so much worse than we were expecting,'” a source briefed on the matter said.

A pharmaceutical industry lobbyist who talked to Axios under the condition of anonymity explained that traditional lobbying efforts do not seem to work on the Trump administration. Under President Trump, the government looks vastly different — and lobbying on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry appears to have become a different game altogether, according to the lobbyist.

“To some extent, the lobbying effort has looked like how you would treat a traditional Republican administration and a Republican-controlled Congress. And that’s not at all what we have. We have something that looks wildly different than that.”

Much like Forbes, Axios predicts that the Trump administration’s efforts in terms of lowering drug costs in no way guarantees that the plan will work out — the industry will do everything it can to kill it.

The lobbyist that the publication talked to observed that the proposal is likely a “midterm play” for the Republican Party which, he claims, is “desperate to get well” on healthcare in the United States.

Last month, in an effort to fight the devastating opioid epidemic, the U.S. Congress passed a sweeping bill which unites dozens of smaller proposals made by lawmakers across the country, according to the Washington Post.

The Post described the passing of the opioid bill as one of the most significant legislative achievements of 2018. Only one senator, Utah Republican Mike Lee, opposed it.