“Pharma Stooge” Congressman Scott Peters (D-CA) Gets Thanks from Drug Industry for Reckless Bill Gutting Drug Discounts

Peters curries favor with Big Pharma by co-sponsoring a bill (H.R. 4710) that strangles nonprofit hospitals with useless red tape, forcing many to forgo participating in the 340B drug discount program. In return, a drug industry-financed “AstroTurf” advocacy group placed a misleading online ad thanking Peters, falsely stating that he was, “…working to improve the 340B program and help needy patients.”

In fact, Peters’ bill will gut the drug discount program, resulting in reduced healthcare for people—including for needy individuals in his own district. Peters is the sixth wealthiest member of Congress and has taken more than $100,000 in contributions from the drug and biotech industries while in Congress.

 

Drug pricing advocates from AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) today called out Congressman Scott Peters (D-CA, 52nd District) as a “pharma stooge” who has taken in more that $100,000 in contributions from the drug and biotech industries while in Congress and recently introduced legislation (H.R. 4710) that will gut a federally administered drug discount program that costs the government and taxpayers nothing.

Last week and in response to his introduction of the bill, the drug industry-financed grassroots advocacy group, AIRx340B (the misleadingly named fake or “AstroTurf” grassroots organization, the “Alliance for Integrity & Reform of 340B”) placed a digital online ad on the San Diego Union Tribune website thanking Peters for, “working to improve the 340B program and help needy patients.”

Peters’ bill will, in fact, gut the drug discount program, resulting in reduced healthcare for people—including for needy individuals in Peters’ own San Diego district.

“Congressman Peters is shamelessly currying favor with Big Pharma and its fronted organizations by co-sponsoring irresponsible legislation that kneecaps nonprofit hospitals and discourages many of them from participating in the 340B drug discount program,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “In return, the drug industry and its trade group pat him on the back for doing their bidding with this online ad—and likely future campaign contributions. Congressman Peters’ constituents deserve to know that he is little more than a pharma stooge and they should demand more from their representative in Congress.”

On the eve of the Congressional Christmas Recess, and with little public notice or input, Peters introduced federal legislation on December 21, 2017, that would severely curtail nonprofit hospitals’ participation in the 340B program, a federally administered drug discount program created to extend the lifeline of care and services that safety net hospitals and providers are able to deliver. Peters, a San Diego Democrat, co-sponsored the bill with Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN). Peters, who has served in Congress since 2013, is also the sixth wealthiest member of Congress.

Notably, there is also still no mention or press release about H.R. 4710 on the congressman’s official website.

“Normally, when Members of Congress introduce bills, they trumpet the accomplishment in order to grab headlines and demonstrate to the public and their constituents that they are getting things done. Congressman Peters’ webpage features a lot of that,” said Tom Myers, General Counsel and Chief of Public Affairs for AHF. “However, there is nothing anywhere on his website for this bill, which suggests he is not proud of it. He likely knows it is bad policy and will not be popular, and that people will recognize that he is doing the bidding of pharma.”

About the 340B Program

The 340B program was enacted by Congress as part of the Veterans Health Care Act of 1992 to allow designated safety net medical providers, called “covered entities,” to purchase prescription outpatient drugs directly from pharmaceutical manufacturers at discounted prices. As a discount program, 340B costs federal taxpayers and the government nothing. Congress itself expressed that the goal of the program is “to enable [covered entities] to stretch scarce Federal resources as far as possible, reaching more eligible patients and providing more comprehensive services.”1