Pharmaceutical companies score ‘big win’ on Sen. Cornyn’s watch

by | Jun 20, 2019 | Health Care, Policy

Sen. John Cornyn has done an about- face on the soaring cost of prescription drugs.

The backstory: Earlier this year the senator raised legitimate concerns around pharmaceutical companies using patents to keep competition out of the market. His proposed legislation would have allowed the Federal Trade Commission to sue brand drug makers who tried to keep generic alternatives — those at a much lower cost to consumers — from entering the market.

“Drug companies have taken advantage of the patent system to maintain their monopoly on certain drugs and prevent generics from coming to market,” Cornyn said in a statement in May. “These tactics mean Americans are forced to pay more for the life-saving medications they need.”

But now, under pressure from the pharmaceutical industry, Cornyn effectively watered down the bill, leading Bloomberg Government to call it for Big Pharma: “The drug industry scored a major victory this week.”

“A drug industry lobbyist said pharmaceutical companies were particularly worried about Cornyn’s bill because it could spur a string of lawsuits against the industry,” reported Bloomberg. “The person said using the FDA [Federal Drug Administration] instead of the FTC [Federal Trade Commission] is likely to water down the bill enough to be acceptable for drug companies and their allies in Congress.”

The senator has received $227,750 in pharmaceuticals/health products PAC money between 2013 and 2018, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The bigger picture: actions speak louder than words

This isn’t the first time Cornyn has showed rhetorical support for some policy, only later to oppose it.

In 2012, he was publicly supportive of the Violence Against Women Act but then voted against it that same year and again in 2013.

In February, Cornyn issued a statement on Texas land rights, claiming “[p]rivate property owners should not have to worry about the federal government coming in and taking away their land.”

Two weeks later he supported President Trump’s use of emergency powers to build a border wall, which would take away land from hundreds of Texans along the border.

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