Big Pharma Rakes in Big Q2 Cash Under Trump-Azar

Pharmaceutical Q2 Earnings Calls Confirm the Industry Is Unchecked by Washington Under Trump and Azar’s Watch

WASHINGTON — Second-quarter earnings calls from the pharmaceutical industry’s heavy hitters show drug companies are maximizing profits off the backs of everyday Americans. Prescription drug prices are soaring as Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar fails to make good on the president’s promise to lower costs and reel in the influence of big pharma in Washington. 

Key takeaways from the Q2 earnings calls include: 

  • Pfizer returned $12.9 billion to shareholders in the first half of 2019
  • Merck revenues were $11.8 billion, a 12% year-over-year increase
  • Bristol Myers Squibb bragged about their history of distributing cash to shareholders with almost $8 billion of share repurchases over the past 10 years 

“Real Americans are struggling to afford outrageously high prescription drug prices while the pockets of pharmaceutical companies continue to grow deeper,” said Lizzy Price, Director of Restore Public Trust. “Secretary Azar is watching from the sidelines as big pharma boasts huge profit margins to shareholders on earnings calls, while failing to deliver on their promise to lower drug prices. Is Azar’s laissez-faire attitude a strategy so his friends in the pharmaceutical industry can continue to count their cash and raise prices on Americans? If Azar can’t get the job done, he should be replaced with someone capable of advocating for the people Azar should be serving.”

Secretary Azar is one of many officials in the Trump administration with deep ties to the pharmaceutical industry. In June, Restore Public Trust launched the website, , to expose the sixteen Trump administration officials who have made almost $6 million from the pharmaceutical industry while everyday Americans struggle to find the money for lifesaving drugs they need. 

Recently released lobbyist disclosures show the pharmaceutical industry is doubling down to leverage its influence over policy makers too. Some of the largest healthcare companies, including Azar’s former employer Eli Lilly, spent more than $2 million on lobbying in Q2 while other pharmaceutical industry top players increased their lobbying budgets by at least 10% in the second quarter of this year, compared with the same period in 2018. Disclosures reveal

  • PhRMA spent a record $16.1 million on lobbying in the first six months of 2019, breaking its all-time six-month lobbying record which it also broke in 2018, and putting the group on pace to break its annual lobbying record
  • Johnson & Johnson spent $2.2 million this quarter, which is nearly two and a half times what it spent in the comparable time period last year
  • Eli Lilly spent $2.3 million on lobbying in the second quarter of 2019
  • Allergan spent $1 million lobbying Congress, nearly three times what it spent during this period last year

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