WASHINGTON — It’s less than a week old, but a shadowy new pharma advocacy group is already launching diatribes against advocates for lower drug prices, blasting pharmacy middlemen and defending even sky-high list prices for prescription drugs.
The new group, the Alliance to Protect Medical Innovation, says its goal is to “help educate policymakers and the public about medical breakthroughs developed by the biopharmaceutical industry.” An “About Us” section on its website describes it as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit.
It’s not clear who funds the group, or even who is running the group’s day-to-day operations. The group’s website includes no information on funding nor a staff directory, and the group did not respond to immediate request for comment from STAT. It’s not clear exactly when the group launched, but its first link to a news story is dated Sept. 26. An associated Twitter account sent its first tweet on Sept. 28.
But it’s already clear the group has a dog in the fight.
The group’s website claims insurers and pharmacy benefit managers are pushing “short-sighted policies that would disrupt the development of the cures and medicines that patients depend on.”
The group’s website also includes pharma-friendly answers to a number of hot-button drug pricing questions, including: “What are pharmacy benefit managers and how do they make drugs more expensive?” “What’s wrong with importing drugs from other countries?” “Why shouldn’t the government be allowed to negotiate directly with drug companies?”
Whoever is behind the group also seems to have a grudge against the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, which funds drug pricing watchdog groups like the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, Patients for Affordable Drugs, and I-MAK.
The sole blog post on the group’s website, dated Oct. 1, argues the Arnold Foundation “has financed a robust network of outside academics, media organizations and pseudo-regulatory organizations to sustain its crusade against the biopharmaceutical industry.”
John Arnold took to Twitter Thursday afternoon to invite the group “to come out of the shadows so we can debate the issues.”
Ben Wakana, the executive director of Patients for Affordable Drugs, also said in a statement the group “should disclose its funders immediately,” and described their tactics as “misleading, self-serving ‘facts’ with the same old threat: your money or your life.”