The midterm elections’ outcome will create deafening political noise about drug prices and great discomfort for pharmaceutical company executives. The effects on the biopharma industry will be tangible, but far more modest than the fiery rhetoric from both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue suggests.
Disdain for drug companies is one of the few areas of agreement between House Democrats and President Donald Trump, but political and parliamentary realities will limit the likelihood the shared anger translates into laws affecting the prices of medicines.
Oversight will be a greater priority for House Democrats than enacting legislation. They will relentlessly pursue and publicize investigations of drug company practices. Exploiting the ability of the majority party to hold hearings and issue subpoenas, Democrats can be counted on to portray drug developers as price gougers who freeload on government-funded research. Even biotech’s friends among Democrats are angry over drug prices, and there is little appetite in either party to publicly defend drug companies.
Still, most of the pharma-bashing won’t make it into law because the Republican-controlled Senate will reject major changes that would dismantle Medicare Part D, a program