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Letter to Congress Purportedly From ‘Patient Organizations’ Actually Dominated by Industry Groups, Medical Industrial Complex

Jan. 18, 2019

Letter to Congress Purportedly From ‘Patient Organizations’ Actually Dominated by Industry Groups, Medical Industrial Complex

Letter Opposes Medicare Part D Negotiating Authority to Make Medicines More Affordable

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Nearly half the signers who are on a letter to congressional lawmakers and who purportedly are from patient organizations that oppose giving the government authority to negotiate directly to lower Medicare Part D medicine prices don’t represent patients at all, a Public Citizen analysis (PDF) shows.

When forwarding the letter to lawmakers, the National Osteoporosis Foundation claimed that “224 patient organizations have joined together to express our concerns with proposals that would repeal the non-interference (NI) clause in the Medicare Part D program.” The letter ends, “We strongly urge you to stand with the patient community” by opposing legislation that would enable the government to negotiate to make medications more affordable.

But of the 223 signatories to the Jan. 15 letter, 53 signers were industry groups. They included trade associations like Biotechnology Innovation Organization and U.S. Chamber of Commerce that have an interest in maximizing pharmaceutical manufacturing profits on behalf of their members.

Of the 120 patient organizations that signed, a little more than half have received financial support from prescription corporations, which oppose allowing the government to negotiate directly with manufacturers to attain lower prices for Medicare Part D.

Thirty-three of the signers were groups representing physicians or other providers; five were agricultural groups (National Grange and a number of state affiliates); four were general nonprofits; two were government groups; one was a law firm; and one was a think tank (Third Way).

Public Citizen today called on the National Osteoporosis Foundation to correct its error and for signatories of the letter to disclose financial support they receive from the pharmaceutical industry.

“Making medicines affordable is one of the most important issues before this Congress,” said Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines program. “It’s critical that lawmakers have accurate information and that groups lobbying Congress disclose their financial interests. Big Pharma has a long history of manipulating this debate. We can’t let that happen.”

Polls show that obtaining affordable medications is a top concern of millions of Americans, many who skip doses or cut pills in half because of cost. More than nine in 10 Americans support letting the government negotiate directly to lower Medicare Part D medication prices.