GOP Senate candidate with stock in Big Pharma opposes drug pricing reform

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Nevada Republican Adam Laxalt and his wife own more than $67,000 in pharmaceutical stocks, according to his recent financial disclosure statement.

A top Republican Senate candidate in Nevada has refused to back a Democratic plan to reduce prescription drug costs. His newly released personal financial disclosures suggest doing so might hurt his own bottom line.

Former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2018, is seeking his party's nomination to challenge Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) next year.

While he boasts on his campaign website of having once fought against "manipulation of drug prices," he has refused to publicly support efforts to reduce prescription costs by allowing the federal government to negotiate for lower drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry.

President Joe Biden's Build Back Better plan, which the House of Representatives passed in November, includes provisions that would allow Medicare to work out deals with drug manufacturers to bring down the cost of some expensive common medications. This would mean less out-of-pocket spending for older Americans. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates these provisions would save the federal government nearly $300 billion over a decade.

Laxalt opposes the sweeping $1.75 trillion social spending package.

"We're entering a really, really dangerous time for inflation," he told Fox Business in October. "So to continue to try to spend more money when really all the economy needs is people to get out of the way so that people will start going back to work and start rebuilding is just the exact wrong direction."

Contrary to Laxalt's claims, top economists predict Build Back Better would actually help curb long-term inflation.

The pharmaceutical industry fiercely opposes the lower drug price provisions in the plan. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the industry's largest trade group, recently claimed the bill "inserts the heavy hand of government into America's medicine cabinet, and we know when government bureaucrats set the price of medicine, patients ultimately have less access to treatments and cures."

The prescription drug industry and its allies in Congress have repeated the misleading talking point that if private pharmaceutical companies aren't able to continue generating massive profits on their products, they will spend less on research and development for future medical treatments.

But according to the Congressional Budget Office, even a more expansive prescription drug proposal would only lead to eight fewer prescription drugs being brought to market over the next 10 years. Build Back Better includes billions of dollars in federal funding to support expanded pharmaceutical research.

Laxalt's mandatory personal financial disclosure statement, filed Monday and first spotted by the progressive research group American Bridge 21st Century, suggests he and his wife might also stand to lose money if drug companies make smaller profits.

According to the statement, Adam and Jaime Laxalt own stock in six separate pharmaceutical companies, including Amgen, Gilead Sciences, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., and the Walgreens Boots Alliance. Though the forms only require candidates to indicate a range of asset values, the couple's holdings in these companies total somewhere between $67,011 and $305,000.

A campaign spokesperson did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

Though some other Nevada Republicans are also running for the Senate seat, much of the national GOP establishment, including former President Donald Trump, has lined up behind Laxalt, who co-chaired Trump's failed 2020 reelection campaign.

The general election race between Cortez Masto and the Republican nominee is expected to be competitive.

National polling has consistently shown strong national support for drug price negotiation and other efforts to lower the cost of prescription drugs. Trump himself ran on a promise to enact such legislation but dropped the idea after taking office. "We don't do it. Why? Because of the drug companies," Trump said.

During his failed 2018 gubernatorial campaign, Laxalt made national news when a dozen members of his family came out against his candidacy and accused him of continuing "to falsely claim that he was raised in Nevada or has any true connections to Nevadans."

He made news again for his failed efforts to steal the 2020 election for Trump.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.