Pfizer CEO complains to investors about lower drug prices under Inflation Reduction Act


Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer is unhappy with the legislative sprint to pass the Cut Inflation Act, the sweeping energy bill funded in part by cuts in the price of key pharmaceuticals.

“I want to say it’s very disappointing that they’re choosing to pick just one industry,” Bourla said on a call with investors last week.

The legislation, Bourla said, includes “specific measures to affect only the pharmaceutical industry, particularly when we are out of a pandemic, where this industry has proven the value it brings to public health and the environment. Mondial economy”.

The bitter comments on the Inflation Reduction Act – the work of silent negotiations led by Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., and Sen. Chuck Schumer, DN.Y. — reflect the pharmaceutical industry’s opposition to a key funding provision for a range of energy incentive and deficit reduction plans. The legislation aims to fund these programs primarily through changes to the tax code and reviving a drug price reduction plan from last year.

The drug pricing plan, which was formulated last year in the House of Representatives, is a compromise measure that falls short of progressive demands for Medicare to directly negotiate the price of all the drugs it reimburses on behalf of seniors. Instead, it would allow the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to negotiate the costs of 10 high-priced older drugs in 2023, for deals that would take effect in 2025. Drugmakers that don’t participate in the negotiations would face to a special excise tax, and the provision contains several exemptions for newly marketed drugs and certain biologics that have been available for less than 12 years.

Even with the severely reduced proposal, big pharma stands to lose future profits. The pharmaceutical lobby, as a result, has rallied to fight the legislation, and with the powerful fossil fuel industry likely appeased by Manchin’s protections, this could pose the bill’s most formidable threat.

Pfizer is one of the biggest spenders lobbying Congressional negotiations and the drug pricing provision. Many of the company’s 76 lobbyists have revealed that they are working to shape current legislation. In recent years, Pfizer has made a flurry of hiring lobbyists, including many former Democratic congressional staffers. Pfizer and Bourla did not immediately respond to The Intercept’s request for comment.

Pfizer is a leading opponent of the drug pricing proposal, but other voices in the pharmaceutical industry, represented by lobby group PhRMA, are uniting against the legislative initiative. Medicare Part D drugs that could be subject to the drug pricing provision include Bristol Myer Squibb/Pfizer’s Eliquis, AbbVie/Johnson & Johnson’s Imbruvica, Pfizer’s Ibrance, Eli Lilly’s Jardiance, and Astellas Pharma/Pfizer’s Xtandi, all of which are among the more expensive pharmaceutical products whose release date matches the drug pricing formula.

In 2019, Ibrance, used to treat breast cancer, cost Medicare $1.8 billion. That same year, Medicare spent $7.3 billion on the blood clot drug Eliquis and $1.4 billion on Xtandi, a drug to treat prostate cancer.

During his remarks on the call to investors, Bourla continued to express disbelief that his industry would face any regulation given its role in the coronavirus pandemic.

“We would be at a very different stage of this global economy if we didn’t have the investments in the thriving life sciences sector,” Bourla said. “And they choose to target this industry. I think that’s wrong.

Yet his complaints that he has been unfairly targeted after the pandemic come at a time when the pharmaceutical giant is reaping one of the biggest financial windfalls from its role in providing vaccines and antiviral drugs against Covid-19. Earlier on the same call, Pfizer executives touted expected sales this year of Paxlovid, Pfizer’s antiviral treatment for the coronavirus, at $22 billion. For its coronavirus vaccine, projected revenue was $32 billion.

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