Why does Big Pharma care about rent control? Read on for the dirt…

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

By the time we get to election day, proponents and opponents of California’s Proposition 10– the rent control initiative on this year’s ballot– may  have dumped nearly $100 million into the fight.

But that’s not the weirdest thing about the battle over Prop 10. In fact, it’s this: Big Pharma is playing in the Prop 10 war, apparently to stick it to a major backer of rent control that is engaged in a separate policy fight with the industry over a drug discount program you’ve probably never even heard of.

Here’s the dirt.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is a major proponent of a drug discount program called 340B. Here’s a picture of an ad they’re running at bus stops all over Washington, D.C., aimed at preventing Congress from gutting the program (which actually receives zero taxpayer dollars).

Big Pharma hates 340B, with a passion. The drug industry thinks that despite the fact that 340B sales account for a tiny fraction of all drug sales nationwide, the existence of the program– into which Big Pharma opted in exchange for getting access to taxpayer money via entitlement programs– is unfairly and excessively denting its profits.

And, it turns out, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation is the biggest backer of Prop 10– they’ve plugged $17.65 million into the measure, including $5 million in just the last few days. So, in an apparent move to stick it to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Big Pharma’s industry trade association, PhRMA, has dumped $500,000 into the anti-rent control campaign.

One unanswered question: If Big Pharma is so concerned about its profits being dented, wouldn’t another way of protecting them be to avoid spending half-a-million-bucks in off-topic proxy wars with policy opponents? Or, perhaps, curtailing their massive drug ad spending (or hiring cheaper actresses for said ads than Gwyneth Paltrow’s mother)? Or– dare we say it– even dropping some prices to increase overall sales volume (people tend to buy more of things they want or need if they’re cheaper)?

Whichever way you vote on Prop 10, remember when you go to the polls that it’s not just the housing industry and actual rent control advocates  focused on the fight. Apparently, it’s the go-fo-the-jugular pharmaceutical industry, too.

Write A Comment