Witnesses set to testify before the Senate Finance Committee tomorrow about the high cost of prescription drugs and what can be done about them have financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry, according to a new report by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO).
One of the witnesses set to testify is Douglas Holtz-Eakin, economist and president of American Action Forum, a Washington think-tank that says it “proudly leads the center-right on economic and fiscal policy issues” and “combines timely analysis and modern communications strategies to promote innovative, free-market solutions.”
According to IRS tax forms examined by POGO, Holtz-Eakin’s organization has received thousands of dollars directly from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). In 2015, PhRMA gave $130,000 and in 2014 it gave $125,000.
According to IRS tax forms, a sister organization, the American Action Network, has received millions of dollars from PhRMA and has also given money to the American Action Forum. In 2016 alone, PhRMA gave over $6 million to American Action Network. Over a 12-month period starting July 2016, American Action Network gave Holtz’s organization $945,000.
This money trail illustrates the wide reach of pharmaceutical industry money among people and organizations in a position to influence drug policy.
Holtz-Eakin is not the only witness testifying tomorrow before the Committee who has had a financial connection to the pharmaceutical industry. Peter B. Bach is a physician and the director of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center who, according to a government database reviewed by POGO, received more than $16,000 in 2017 from Gilead Sciences Inc., a biopharmaceutical company, for consulting, travel, and lodging. That same database shows Bach received thousands of dollars from pharmaceutical companies in prior years. Bach said he was paid to speak about his research.
“I think it’s really important to be transparent and to have these disclosures,” Bach told POGO.
In 2016, POGO released an investigative series, “Drug Money,” which showed how many patient advocacy groups receive funding from drug companies and have other relationships with drug makers.