The Power Politics of the Pharmaceutical Industry

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It will take more than a spoonful of sugar to help this medicine go down. At a time when the public is swooning over the high price of prescriptions, drug companies are swimming in profits.

Consumer watchdogs, and even some in Congress, say that the pharmaceutical industry is the most powerful political force in Washington, spending millions on lobbying, campaign contributions, and advertising. The drug makers’ legislative prescription for continued profits is simple: keep patent laws on the shelves and cheaper generic drugs off, and innoculate any new prescription drug benefit against price controls.

But critics say drug prices are already too high, drug companies counter that’s the cost of the cure. The debate is enough to give anyone a headache.


Darrell West, professor of political science at Brown University, and author of “The Sound of Money”;
Peter Stone, staff reporter for The National Journal;
Wayne Pines, Consultant to PhRMA.