Biden Praises Pharma to Donors as He Pushes to Cut Prices

(Bloomberg) -- Joe Biden praised pharmaceutical companies on Saturday, offering a line that drew pushback from Democratic opponents who have demonized the industry’s focus on profits.

“By the way, great drug companies out there — except a couple of opioid outfits,” the former vice president told donors at the Dallas home of David Genecov, a craniofacial surgeon.

Biden Praises Pharma to Donors as He Pushes to Cut Prices

Biden’s comment came during a discussion of medical research and the cancer “moonshot” initiative he launched during the Obama administration following the death of his son, Beau Biden, in 2015. That effort included his push for companies to collaborate more on research.

But he sounded a discordant note in praising the companies themselves -- and not the research he intended to praise specifically -- given the near-universal agreement in both parties that companies set drug prices too high, and given his own efforts to further regulate the industry.

His top two rivals, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have demonized pharmaceutical companies for what they consider putting profit over patient care.

“I disagree with Joe Biden,” Sanders said Sunday. “America needs a president who isn’t going to appease and compliment drug companies -- we need a president who will take on the pharmaceutical industry -- whether they like it or not.”

The Biden campaign’s health-care proposal includes a segment on fighting pharmaceutical companies’ price structures.

The drug-pricing proposal has drawn criticism and concern from the pharmaceutical industry, which fears any government efforts to cut into its profits.

“Too many Americans cannot afford their prescription drugs, and prescription drug corporations are profiteering off of the pocketbooks of sick individuals,” according to the Biden campaign website. “The Biden plan will put a stop to runaway drug prices and the profiteering of the drug industry.”

Biden discussed his plan at the second Democratic debate in July. “We will set the price,” he said of his plan, adding that “it says that you cannot raise that price beyond the cost of inflation from this point on.”

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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