Pharma Lobbying Group Goes on Offense Over Bad Image

The pharmaceutical industry is “going on offense” with its biggest ever multiyear ad campaign, meant to focus on the industry’s scientific advances and shift the focus away from “bad actors” that have drawn scrutiny for jacking up the prices of existing drugs.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America campaign, called Go Boldly, launched Monday with a 60-second TV ad which touts the research that spurs new medical treatments in laboratories.

“In short, less hoodie. More lab coats,” CEO Steve Ubl said at a Monday press briefing. “We have a great story to tell, and we’re going to do a better job telling it.”

“We don’t have a discussion today that reflects the value of products. We have a discussion today that’s dominated by three bad actors,” he added, referring to Valeant, Turing and Mylan, three pharmaceutical companies that have come under fire recently over drug pricing.

The campaign is set to cost in the high tens of millions of dollars a year over four to five years, PhRMA spokesman Robert Zirkelbach said Monday, and will include national TV, print, digital, radio and out-of-home advertising, as well as events around the country at which PhRMA hopes to promote its stories and policy ideas.

The campaign’s launch, in the works for six months, comes after the industry was targeted by President Donald Trump, who said drug companies were “getting away with murder” and called for them to bid for the government’s business.

“We take the concerns that have been raised by the president and other stakeholders very seriously,” Ubl said.

He said the key was to “enhance the private market” and called for stronger trade agreements that would do a better job of protecting U.S. jobs and intellectual property. Pressed on whether he thought it was a problem that drug costs are higher in the U.S. compared to other countries, Ubl said it was an issue “insofar as there is a bit of free riding on U.S. investment in R&D.”

PhRMA is also pushing for drugmakers to be able to share information with payers before treatments are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. And it wants consumers to know more about potential out-of-pocket costs before enrolling in insurance policies.

Morning Consult