The top of the pharmaceutical industry lobby group has been a longtime force in Washington, but something changed earlier this year when Democrats passed legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate certain prices with drugmakers despite vehement opposition from the PhRMA. The group had characterized the bill as an existential threat to the industry.
This week, POLITICO’s Megan R. Wilson and Rachel Cohrs of STAT investigated the fallout in separate rooms.
Previously, PhRMA was known for using the “scorched earth” tactic to advance his interests, Cohrs reported.
But in his attack on the Democrats’ bill, “he didn’t mount a pressure campaign like he has in the past. He has not dramatically increased his lobbying spending,” Cohrs wrote. “His aura of invincibility was pierced and his pride softened with a touch of humility.”
PhRMA also does not have respond to threats to sue Democrats who voted for the legislation – what trade group chairman Steve Ubl told Wilson it would be.
PhRMA spokesman Brian Newell told STAT that the group “left everything on the field” and “will use every opportunity to correct this bad law.”
Money talks: But PhRMA did not increase its spending commensurate with the apparent threat when Democrats took power in the White House and both houses of Congress. In fact, according to OpenSecrets, a group that tracks money in politics, its political action committee’s contributions to congressional candidates in the 2022 election cycle are comparable to its contributions in the last midterm elections in 2018, his donations to Democrats barely budging.
In terms of global lobbying, PhRMA stayed online with its recent spending levels, according to OpenSecrets.
PHRMA is third in overall lobbying spend in 2022 so far, according to OpenSecrets, having distributed more than $22 million – behind only the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Realtors. But chamber and real estate brokers spent more than double that of drug giants.
Review after action: Days after his drug price defeat in August, the top Democrat in the PhRMA Washington office, Debra DeShong, left. She has connections in the House and the Senate sides, having worked as press secretary for Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) before becoming House Majority Leader and then a senator. Robert Torricelli (DN.J.), among others.
Now PhRMA looks in the mirror, order a report on his plea before his biggest loss in decades, as reported by Wilson. Newell called it “standard operating procedure” for “most organizations”.
“The industry has lost face with the Democrats, it’s lost face with the Republicans — the populist wing of the Republican Party no longer supports the industry,” an industry lobbyist familiar with the report told Wilson. “The industry has to deal with a balance sheet.”
The report’s findings are expected to be announced at PhRMA’s board meeting this month, three people with knowledge of the report said.
Heavy is the head: STAT reported that most lobbyists he spoke to believed Ubl would keep his job. He is one of the highest paid professional association executives in Washington, DC, earn over $4.5 million in 2019, the most recent year for which IRS data is available.
“I mean this in the nicest way possible: Steve is a… cockroach. He would survive a nuclear holocaust,” an industry lobbyist told STAT.
Do what you want with this: STAT then shortened this quote to the last sentence, noting that it was updated to “truncate quote”.
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The CDCs the flexible work policy can hinder Agency review by director Rochelle Walensky, reports Kaiser Health News. In October, 78% of full-time employees were allowed to work from home at least part-time. Agency veterans and labor organizations were particularly critical of Walensky’s frequent absence from agency headquarters in Atlanta. What do you think: is telecommuting bad for the reorganization of the CDC?
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Twitter suspended 11,230 accounts and deleted 97,674 pieces of content for spreading Covid misinformation since April 2020, according to the statistics the social media company published in September.
The effort to counter the site’s Covid misinformation has come to an end November 23, via a Twitter update content moderation page. Some suspended accounts — including that of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) — have started to come back.
Many in the healthcare community condemned the change. They fear that the return of tweets skeptical of the merits of Covid vaccines, or broadly opposed to vaccines, could have serious consequences for public health.
The Biden Administration hurry Twitter in 2021 to take action against accounts spreading misinformation about Covid, citing the power of social media to elevate fringe opinions and influence public opinion.
But not all public health experts are on the same page.
Jay Bhattacharya, a Stanford University School of Medicine professor and infectious disease health policy expert, suggested the site — and the federal government — weren’t always specific in what they told the public about of Covid, or in what they called misinformation.
Others said Twitter had mislabeled their posts about medical data as misinformation, even when it came from a trusted source.
Critics of the policy change among public health Twitterati debate whether to stop tweeting in protest or keep tweeting to counter misinformation spreaders.
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