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REPORTS: Youngkin – Under Pressure from Big Pharma to Veto Bipartisan Legislation to Lower the Cost of Medicine – Took Nearly $300,000 from the Industry 

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From Freedom Virginia:

REPORTS: Youngkin – Under Pressure from Big Pharma to Veto Bipartisan Legislation to Lower the Cost of Medicine – Took Nearly $300,000 from the Industry

News Reports Show Youngkin Took Nearly $300K in Big Pharma Donations, Declines to Say Whether He Will Sign Bipartisan Bill to Create a Prescription Drug Affordability Board 

In case you missed it, Dogwood last week reported that “in total, [Governor Glenn] Youngkin and his associated political action committees have raised nearly $300,000 from pharmaceutical companies and executives during his career.”

The news comes on the heels of POLITICO’s reporting that the governor is now meeting with industry lobbyists who are pressuring him to veto bipartisan legislation that would lower the cost of medicine.

The governor faces an April 8 deadline to act on HB570 and SB274. The companion bills, which passed both chambers of the General Assembly with bipartisan support, would establish a Prescription Drug Affordability Board (PDAB) with the power to create upper payment limits for certain high-priced prescription drugs.

POLITICO reported, “the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, an industry group whose members include AstraZeneca and Regeneron, is speaking with Youngkin’s office to emphasize ‘the negative ramifications of the legislation,’ and plans to continue discussions in the coming weeks. Merck is also meeting with Youngkin, the company confirmed.”

Merck produces Januvia, which is used to treat diabetes. The drug is so costly that it was one of 10 drugs selected for the first round of Medicare price negotiations under the Inflation Reduction Act. It is also within the top twelve drugs with the fastest-growing year-over-year Wholesale Acquisition Costs (WAC’s) in Virginia.

The POLITICO article also noted that “the Rare Access Action Project, a patient group funded by drugmakers … will continue talking to lawmakers and the governor in an attempt to secure a veto.”

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), another industry group, testified against the legislation as it moved through the committee process this year.

According to Dogwood, “Just months after House Republicans killed [the 2023 Prescription Drug Affordability Board] bill, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), donated $60,000 to Youngkin’s Spirit of Virginia PAC”.

Youngkin has repeatedly declined to state whether he will sign the legislation.

“Governor Youngkin has a real opportunity to make medicine more affordable by signing this bipartisan bill, but these new reports raise serious questions as to where his loyalties lie,” said Freedom Virginia’s Executive Director Rhena Hicks. “Will the governor stand with pharmaceutical companies who fund him, or with Virginians who are rationing their prescriptions? I guess you could call it the $300,000 question.”

A recent poll from AARP Virginia found three-quarters of Virginia voters want their legislators to pass a PDAB, including 85% of Democrats, 71% of Republicans and 70% of Independents. A 2022 Mason-Dixon poll showed similar support for the proposal in the six regions of the Commonwealth.

PDABs have been established in both Republican and Democratic administrations across eight states, including most recently in Minnesota and Colorado.

The Virginians for Affordable Medicine Coalition last week took their “Make Medicine Affordable” mobile billboard tour to Roanoke and Charlottesville, where community members rallied to call on the governor to sign the legislation. The tour will make its final stop in Richmond on April 3.

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Freedom Virginia is a nonpartisan 501(c)4 organization committed to building a Commonwealth where all Virginia families have the freedom to thrive. Freedom Virginia advances economic security policies through grassroots activism, voter engagement and legislative advocacy. Our efforts began in 2020 and since then we’ve pushed for a more economically secure Virginia by sharing real stories about Virginians’ lack of access to affordable healthcare, education, energy, and the need for policies that foster more safety for families. Visit our website at freedomva.org to learn more. 
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