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WASHINGTON — Practically the first words spoken at the first Democratic primary debate on Wednesday zeroed in on drug companies, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) fingered biopharma as a prime example of corporate excess and a culprit for an economic system skewed in favor of the wealthy.

Democrats rushed to echo Warren’s remarks, sharply criticizing “Big Pharma” for its lobbying presence in Washington, for high drug prices, and for furthering the opioid crisis. All told, nine of the 20 candidates worked drug industry jabs into their remarks.


The debate served as yet another sign that drug companies should be preparing for a bruising 2020 campaign in which Democrats are all but sure to paint them as a villain. The variety of candidates’ complaints, as well as their tone, made clear that Democrats may continue to reserve their sharpest jabs for the corporations they view as standing between Americans and affordable health care.

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