With big PHRMA: Big profits, but few answers | Opinion

April 18, 2019 6:30 am

By Anthony M. DeLuca

As a state legislator, you don’t always have the same opinion or belief as your colleagues, constituents, or neighbors.

That’s what makes our political process such a beautiful thing — regardless of your beliefs, you have a chance to voice your opinion and hear those that differ, so that we can all attempt to meet somewhere in the middle on a specific issue, which is why, on May 3, I’ll be hosting a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing on drug pricing.

A number of entities involved in the pharmaceutical industry will be in attendance, including health insurers, consumer groups, pharmacists, pharmaceutical benefit managers, the generic pharmaceutical companies, and more.

The goal is to hash-out the issue of high drug prices. But the main entity — the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America — capable of providing specific, to-the-point answers has declined my office’s invitation to participate.

My only question is why PHRMA, the umbrella company for name-brand pharmaceuticals, has denied this invitation? What is there to hide?

As state representative for the residents of the 32nd Legislative District, and an ambassador for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I find it alarming that this entity that has the largest stake in the pharmaceutical industry has openly declined to participate in this public forum.

Just as alarming — if not more — is PHRMA’s reasoning for its absence. According to a company representative, no one was available for the date and time of the public hearing.

PHRMA has 37 companies under its jurisdiction, which is why I find it hard to believe that one of the largest, far-reaching pharmaceutical giants — the titans of the industry — was unable to find one individual to represent them at the May 3 public forum, which typically lasts two hours.

Quite frankly, I think it speaks volumes to what’s truly important to these brand pharmaceutical companies — profits, profits, and more profits. PHRMA is ground zero when it comes to the advancement and distribution of life-saving medications, but these life-saving drugs come at an insurmountable and unsustainable price.

That’s unacceptable. It was my hope that this issue could be tackled with a positive, controlled, and open conversation, but it’s clear PHRMA cares more about its next dollar than it does the livelihood and well-being of the residents who shell out large sums of money for their medication.

Nonetheless, the invitation to attend is still open. I stand with the people of the commonwealth, I plan to fight for their well-being, and I’ll always give a voice to those who can’t speak up themselves.

Who do you stand with, PHRMA?

State Rep. Anthony M. DeLuca, a Democrat, represents the Allegheny County-based 32nd House District. He writes from Harrisburg. 

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