Pharma lobby launches counteroffensive against scrutiny over high drug prices

A top pharmaceutical lobbying group will counterattack scrutiny of industry pricing practices in response to criticism from both the Democratic and Republican parties amidst a heated presidential election season.

Industry and investor anxiety is growing as presidential candidates ignite criticism of drug prices. Republican Donald Trump says he could save the U.S. taxpayers billions by negotiating with drug makers on drug prices for federal health programs. When Democrat Hillary Clinton tweeted about releasing a plan to fight high drug costs last fall, biotechnology stocks took a dive.

Drug companies are pointing fingers at Valeant Pharmaceuticals International and Turing Pharmaceuticals for giving the industry a bad name. Congress criticized Valeant and Turing this year for their practice of steeply raising the prices on older drugs.

In March, large mutual funds including Fidelity Investments, T. Rowe Price Group and Wellington Management met with pharmaceutical makers, urging them to defend their practices.

"Our industry has become an easy scapegoat for the real and growing problem of patient access to affordable new medications," said Jim Greenwood, CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization. He will speak on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry at BIO's convention in San Francisco on Wednesday.

According to BIO, the industry will attempt to shift more responsibility onto insurers, who have called attention to drug makers' prices.

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