PhRMA and PCMA fire up another tit-for-tat spat over new drug pricing ad campaign

PhRMA and PCMA are at it again, pointing fingers at each other over high drug prices.

In the ongoing battle between industry trade groups PhRMA and PCMA, the pharma industry lobbying group fired an ad campaign shot last week. PhRMA launched an effort questioning why patients don’t get to share in payer-negotiated cost savings. But pharmacy benefit manager advocate group PCMA was having none of it.

PhRMA’s new campaign, called “Share the Savings,” will use print, digital and radio ads to ask questions such as, “Your insurer doesn’t pay full price for medicines. So why do you?”

The effort points out that negotiations between biopharma and health plans result in significant rebates and discounts, but, pointing to a recent study from the Berkeley Research Group, says more than one-third of the rebates go back to payers and others in the supply chain.

PCMA fired back in a statement, “This latest campaign is an attempt to deflect blame for high drug prices onto the employers, unions, and insurers that struggle to provide affordable coverage. It's a losing strategy to demonize plans that apply savings from rebates and discounts to reduce overall premiums and copays but can't always afford first-dollar coverage for each new high-priced drug that comes to market.”

The two groups have been pointing fingers at each other, trying to shift blame for the problem of expensive drugs for months. PCMA, in fact, already has its own advertising and lobbying campaign, "Drug Benefits Solutions," which it launched earlier this year after some pharma companies leveled criticism at PBMs through the fall. Also around the same time, the National Community Pharmacists Association urged the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to investigate PBMs.

PCMA’s campaign proposes suggestions for the pharma industry that it says would cut $100 million. On the eponymous website, PCMA highlights how PBMs lower prescription drug costs, it says, by leveraging competition and negotiating rebates.

But don’t expect the back-and-forth politics to end anytime soon. Both groups have experienced lobbyists pushing their cause—PhRMA’s Stephen Ubl and PCMA’s Mark Merritt—both of whom were named by insider D.C. website The Hill as among the top lobbyists for associations in 2016. (BIO’s lobbyist, former Republican congressman James Greenwood, was also named.)

Read more on