Nevada GOP candidate Laxalt, who opposes plan for lower drug costs, buys more pharma stock

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Nevada Republican Senate candidate Adam Laxalt and his spouse appear to have increased their holdings in a major pharmaceutical company since December.

Nevada Republican Senate candidate Adam Laxalt and his spouse have increased their holdings in a major pharmaceutical stock since December while he continues to oppose Democratic legislation to rein in prescription drug prices.

In December Laxalt, a former state attorney general and his party's failed 2018 gubernatorial nominee, filed his first mandatory personal financial disclosure statement as a Senate hopeful, listing his financial assets. At the time, he and his wife Jaime jointly owned somewhere between $1,001 and $15,000 worth of Walgreens Boots Alliance common stock.

On May 16 Laxalt filed his 2022 statement, revealing that they now own between $15,001 and $50,000 of stock in the Walgreen Boots Alliance, a holding company that owns the Walgreens and Duane Reed pharmacy chains and also invests heavily in pharmaceutical manufacturing and distribution corporations.

Federal law requires that everyone in Congress and congressional candidates indicate dollar ranges for their investments rather than provide an exact dollar amount.

According to Google Finance data, stock in the company traded at $49.14 per share on Dec. 13, 2021, when Laxalt first reported, but at just $44.15 when he updated his report on May 16. The drop indicates that for the total value of their holdings to have increased, they must have purchased more shares over that six-month period.

Rather than divest from stocks in an industry he hopes to be in a position to regulate, Laxalt seems to be investing more in it. This comes after he refused to support a Democratic plan that included provisions to reduce the cost of prescription drugs.

In 2021, Laxalt strongly opposed President Joe Biden's Build Back Better plan, which included provisions to cap the cost of insulin, allow Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for lower prices for expensive common medications, and lower out-of-pocket costs for many older Americans.

Because it would reduce drug company profit margins, the pharmaceutical industry has lobbied heavily to block the prescription drug cost legislation. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America trade association and its Republican allies in Congress have fought against it with the misleading argument that smaller profits would mean far less money spent on research and development for new treatments.

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

As in his December disclosure, Laxalt reported that he and his spouse own more than $50,000 worth of stock in five other pharmaceutical companies: Amgen, Gilead Sciences, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck & Co.

In his previous campaigns, Laxalt accepted tens of thousands of dollars in donations directly from pharmaceutical companies.

Somos PAC, the super PAC of the Latino voter outreach organization Somos Votantes, is currently running ads criticizing Laxalt for taking industry contributions and opposing the plan to allow lower drug price negotiation. According to Politico, this is part of a $4 million digital and television ad campaign against him.

Polls nationwide show Laxalt's position is out of step with that of the voting public. A survey released earlier this month by the political advocacy groups Data for Progress and Invest in America found that likely voters back the proposed Build Back Better provisions aimed at "giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs" and "capping out-of-pocket costs for insulin at $35/month" by an overwhelming margin of 83%-8%.

Nevada Republicans will select their nominee in a June 14 primary. A Nevada Independent/OH Predictive Insights poll of likely Republican primary voters released last week found Laxalt leading businessman Sam Brown 45%-30%.

The winner will likely face incumbent Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto in the November general election. Cortez Masto backs the Build Back Better plan and has repeatedly supported efforts to reduce prescription drug and insulin costs.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.