The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) is back with another seven-figure ad campaign challenging Big Pharma.
PCMA released two 30-second ads Tuesday, with the campaign targeting broadcast and cable television around Washington, D.C., along with digital advertising in the area and across key states.
The renewed advertising push comes as both drugmakers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBM) find themselves under the congressional microscope, with lawmakers calling executives in to testify about high drug prices.
The trade group representing PBMs said the ads, titled ‘Big Power’ and ‘Scheme,’ intend to remind lawmakers and the general public that “Big Pharma’s egregious pricing and anti-competitive practices” are driving prescription drug prices higher.
“Lobbying groups for the pharmaceutical industry have spent tens of millions of dollars of paid advertising aimed at putting a target on the one check-and-balance on their pricing power – pharmacy benefit companies, who provide savings for patients, employers and plan sponsors – in order to keep prescription drug prices high,” PCMA CEO JC Scott said in a statement. “Misguided proposals targeting pharmacy benefits come straight from their playbook and are designed to undermine the one check-and-balance on drug companies’ pricing power.”
The ad campaign was launched three weeks after PBM executives testified at a hearing held by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee about insulin prices.
While the hearing lacked some of the expected fireworks, federal lawmakers have remained steadfast in targeting prescription drug prices, building on the momentum spurred on by the Inflation Reduction Act’s passage last year.
Sen. Markwayne Mullin, (R-Ok.), had a memorable moment at the hearing, commenting that PBMs rebate themselves since they are owned by large health insurers and suggested shutting them down due to their perceived ineffectiveness.
Though Congress is marked by stark partisan divisions which extend into the realm of health policy, there seems to be bipartisan support for holding PBMs to account for their impact on high drug prices.
Last month, Sen. Bernie Sanders, (I-Vt.), and Sen. Bill Cassidy, (R-La.), introduced a package that would improve transparency among the so-called healthcare middlemen and mandate that they send 100% of the rebates they receive from drugmakers to health insurers.
In response to the policy proposals and congressional hearings, Scott said at PCMA’s annual policy forum that the rhetoric on Capitol Hill is “based on a foundation that fundamentally misconstrues” the work of PBMs.