FACT CHECK: Did Drug Companies Spend $100 Million Lobbying Against The Inflation Reduction Act?

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

President Joe Biden claimed on Twitter that pharmaceutical companies spent approximately $100 million lobbying against the Inflation Reduction Act.

Verdict: Misleading

While pharmaceutical companies have spent $147 million across two years opposing drug pricing negotiation reforms, there is no evidence that it was specifically aimed against the bill.

Fact Check: 

Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act, a sweeping healthcare and climate change package, into law Aug. 16, according to CNN. One of its provisions would require the federal government “to negotiate prices for some high-cost drugs covered under Medicare,” the Kaiser Family Foundation reported.

The president claimed in a tweet Aug. 21 that “[b]ig drug companies spent nearly $100 million to try and defeat the Inflation Reduction Act.”

There is no evidence that drug companies spent $100 million trying to defeat the Inflation Reduction Act. The Kaiser Health Network reported that drug companies spent $57 million over the past 12 months opposing drug pricing negotiations. However, there are no credible news reports suggesting such an amount was spent against the act alone.

Daniel Auble, a senior researcher at the Center for Responsive Politics, told Check Your Fact in an email that their data suggested Pharmaceutical and health product companies spent $187.4 million on lobbying through the first six months on “all issues, regulations and bills.”

“That total is for January through June. For context though, companies in the industry that reported lobbying on drug pricing more broadly spent $129.2 million during the first six months,” Auble said.

A White House spokesperson pointed Check Your Fact to a July 13 report from Accountable.US, a corporate watchdog, as the source of the claim. The report was released two weeks before Manchin’s office issued a release announcing the act.

“The top 5 pharmaceutical companies by market cap and their industry group PhRMA have spent an estimated $147,285,000 while lobbying against lowering the costs of prescription drugs” since the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020.

The spokesperson did not respond to questions about how the July 13 report could be applied. (RELATED: Was There ‘No Vaccine’ Available When Joe Biden Took Office?)

Audrey Baker, the communications director for advocacy group Patients for Affordable Drugs Now, told Check Your Fact that, according to their data, “Big Pharma and their front groups have spent $19,159,978” between July 1 to Aug. 3 and $1,574,869 on “New ads” from July 27 to Aug. 3, which does not include ads that were running when the act was introduced.

“We can only track based on publicly available information, but this is not a complete record of pharma spending as we cannot track things like direct mail or payments to grasstops, influencers, lobbying, etc,” Baker cautioned.

Check Your Fact could not determine how much companies spent opposing the Inflation Reduction Act. There is no public evidence, though, that they spent $100 million as the president claims. We rate this claim misleading.

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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