GOP congressmen are telling big pharma not to cooperate with Congress


GOP members of the House told Big Pharma corporations they don't have to respond to a Congressional inquiry into high drug costs.

House Republicans don't want you to know why your prescription drugs cost so much. So much so that they're writing to big pharma companies and telling them not to comply with a House investigation about drug costs. Members of the House telling companies not to comply with a House investigation is likely unprecedented, but that doesn't stop Republicans.

Two GOP members of the House Oversight Committee — Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) — reached out to 12 Big Pharma executives to blatantly lie to them about the investigation being conducted by Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings. Cummings is investigating drug company pricing practices, which obviously requires him to get data from major drug companies.

Rather than ensure the committee got this critical information, Jordan and Meadows are telling the CEOs information they give to the committee in confidence would be leaked to the press to crash stock prices. They've deceptively edited a remark from Cummings to make it look like Cummings is interested in hurting the bottom line of big pharmaceutical corporations.

Cummings had been speaking of his drug team, a group of staffers that work on the issue of drug prices. The letter from Jordan and Meadows quotes Cummings as saying "we have already seen the impact they have had… on stock prices with regard to drugs. I mean, it has been astronomical." Their quote chops off the last — and critical — part of the quote, which is that Cummings was referring to "saving the taxpayers money."

The letter characterizes Cummings' investigation as "seeking a wide range of highly sensitive business-proprietary information that would likely harm the competitiveness of your company if disclosed publicly." It goes on to say the committee "should instead work collaboratively to explore potential bipartisan solutions to the rising costs of prescription drugs." It seems impossible that the committee could actually tackle the issue of rising drug costs without getting data from the companies that control drug prices.

Americans have faced rapidly rising drug costs for years. Between 2006 and 2014, the overall price for prescription drugs rose by an average of 57 percent. It's even worse for drugs that don't have a generic equivalent. Those rose by 142 percent in the same period. At $1200 per capita per year, Americans pay more for prescription drugs than any other developed country.

The GOP has no plan to decrease drug costs, and neither does their leader Trump. Instead of actually working to stabilize drug prices, Trump tried to blame other countries for the high costs of drugs in the United States. He nominated Alex Azar, a former drug company lobbyist and big pharma executive, to be his secretary of health and human services — hardly a mark of a commitment to lowering drug costs.

This most recent move just makes clear that the GOP is never interested in protecting consumers. Given a choice, they'll always stump for big corporations.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.