December 17, 2019/Press

NEW: Tillis Confirms He Opposes Bipartisan Drug Pricing Bill, Doesn’t Want to “Incur the Wrath” of His Big Pharma Funders

Raleigh – After dancing around the question of whether he supports a bipartisan drug pricing bill sponsored by Senator Grassley (R-IA), Senator Tillis officially made it clear that he opposes the bill, according to a new report in Politico, in part because he does not want to “incur the wrath of the well-financed pharmaceutical industry.”

Tillis has long taken his cues from the pharmaceutical special interests that fund his campaign, and Big Pharma has found an industry rubber stamp in Tillis because he’s weak and vulnerable.

Tillis has been met with a “showering of love” from Big Pharma, including campaign contributions and even a Valentine’s Day fundraiser. According to an analysis from McClatchy, “Tillis has received the second-most amount of money among senators from the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry, trailing only Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican.”

In turn, he’s toed the industry line:

  • He voted against the bipartisan CREATES Act, which had “unusually broad support” from conservatives, liberals, and health care groups yet PhRMA opposed.
  • He “pressured” another Republican Senator to “significantly rework” their own legislation regulating the pharmaceutical industry.
  • He now opposes the bipartisan Grassley drug pricing bill.

Even as President Trump and the public call for lowering the cost of prescription drugs, Senator Tillis is rubber stamping Mitch McConnell’s agenda and taking his cue from Big Pharma and the special interests who fund his campaigns.

“Senator Tillis is in the pocket of big drug companies and continues to carry their water, acting as an industry rubber stamp while North Carolinians struggle with sky high drug prices,” NCDP spokesman Robert Howard said. “Big Pharma has found a reliable industry rubber stamp in Senator Tillis because he’s weak and vulnerable and would rather court the big money pharmaceutical special interests to save his political seat even if it means lifesaving prescription drugs remain unaffordable for too many hardworking North Carolina families.”

Politico: Democrats box in Republicans on drug pricing
By Burgess Everett and Sarah Owermohle
December 16, 2019

Key Points:

  • After months of wrangling, House Democrats finally passed a massive bill aimed at lowering drug prices. And Senate Republicans are flummoxed over how to respond.
  • The GOP is in a jam that makes action appear somewhere between unlikely and impossible. But if Republicans fail to act, it could easily become a major political liability for the party given the salience of high drug prices in public polling and President Donald Trump’s desire for sweeping reforms.
  • Yet with an election year cresting and massive divisions among his members, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is staying put. Associates say the Kentucky Republican is not eager to make a move that splits his caucus and could incur the wrath of the well-financed pharmaceutical industry.
  • When it comes to the Senate floor, McConnell is not eager to put anything up that doesn’t at a minimum have the support of half his members. He’s warned colleagues that the drug-pricing bill could result in a circular firing squad — exposing his Republicans to tough attacks as they run for reelection.
  • Take Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, whose state is a hotbed for the pharmaceutical industry. He opposes the Grassley bill — but if he voted against it he’d be sure to take flak from Democrats looking to oust him. He said the need to put caps on drug prices is being “driven by a lot of populist pressure.”