Drug prices The group isattacking PBMs and “short-sighted policies that would disrupt thedevelopment of the cures and medicines that patients dependon.” (Photo: Shutterstock)

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A “shadowy” drug pricing advocacy organization that made itsfirst appearance this week has proved to be backed by a Republicanlobbying firm.

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According to Stat News, the Alliance to Protect MedicalInnovation announced its goal was to “help educate policymakers andthe public about medical breakthroughs developed by thebiopharmaceutical industry.” The report adds that the new group's“About Us” section on its website describes it as a 501(c)(4)nonprofit.

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Related: Drug lobbyists shift blame for highprices

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A followup from Stat News says that the group, whichis outspokenly defending high drug prices and criticizingadvocates for lower drug prices as well as pharmacy middlemen, has already been called a“dark money organization” for its lack of transparency. The group'swebsite is asserting that claims insurers and pharmacy benefitmanagers are pushing “short-sighted policies that would disrupt thedevelopment of the cures and medicines that patients dependon.”

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The website is also populated with “pharma-friendly answers to anumber of hot-button drug pricing questions,” Stat notes. “Whoeveris behind the group also seems to have a grudge against theLaura and John Arnold Foundation, which fundsdrug pricing watchdog groups like the Institute for Clinical andEconomic Review, Patients for Affordable Drugs, and I-MAK.”

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APMI has admitted to receiving some “seed money from peopleinside the [drug] industry,” and the lobbying group, CGCN, whichdoes both lobbying and communications, has said that APMI is itsclient and that it is helping with the new group's rollout.

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The advocacy group Patients for Affordable Drugs has laid APMI'sfinancing at the feet of PhRMA, but the report says that both APMIand PhRMA have denied having any financial connection.

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The brand drug lobby BIO, which, according to the report, has anumber of members in common with APMI, has said that it's joiningAPMI as one of its first members. The report quotes BIO spokesmanBrian Newell in a statement saying, “Innovation and bad publicpolicy cannot coexist. That's an important message often neglectedin the debate about health care costs, and that's precisely themessage this organization will help deliver.”

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What's really behind the high cost ofdrugs?

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Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter has worked in and written about the financial industry for decades.