W

ASHINGTON — The drug industry’s top lobbying group in Washington is asking its members to ante up an additional $100 million annually ahead of an expected fight over drug pricing.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America is raising its annual membership dues by 50 percent, according to a Politico report on Tuesday morning, which will increase its yearly take to $300 million total.

The industry is fighting strong headwinds in the nation’s capital, following a series of high-profile pricing scandals from Martin Shkreli to EpiPen. Lawmakers have responded with hearings and inquiries, forcing Valeant and Mylan executives to come before them to respond to questions about the controversies.

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At the same time, the Obama administration has undertaken a major initiative to rein in the drug prices paid by Medicare, a plan PhRMA and its members have vehemently opposed.

Looking ahead to next year, drug pricing could be near the top of the agenda for the new president. Hillary Clinton, who currently holds a strong lead over Donald Trump in presidential campaign polling, has railed against price hikes on the campaign trail.

She released her own plan for addressing them, which the industry criticized as “the wrong solutions for patients.” Clinton will also likely face pressure from the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party to follow through on her promises.

Add in a possible legislative package to address problems with the Affordable Care Act, and a potential showdown over a federal program that provides drug discounts for certain hospitals, and next year looks to be a busy one for drug makers.

PhRMA has been pledging to improve the industry’s image in the face of this opposition, taking the unusual step of condemning controversial companies and planning advertising campaigns to highlight the lifesaving treatments its members develop. Politico reported Tuesday that the group would run TV ads next year making that case.

A group spokesperson declined to comment.

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  • I am assuming the TV ads will show scientists working at the bench and suggesting that drug price control will cut the ability of companies to pursue research against diseases. When, in reality research budgets are well behind what companies pay for marketing, lobbying, bribing politicians and MDs.

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