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Biden praises Pharma to donors despite complaints about prices

Jennifer Epstein, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- Joe Biden praised pharmaceutical companies on Saturday, offering a line that could draw pushback from Democratic opponents who have demonized the industry's focus on profits.

"By the way, great drug companies out there -- except a couple of opioid outfits," the former vice president told donors at the Dallas home of David Genecov, a craniofacial surgeon.

Biden's comment came during a discussion of medical research and the cancer "moonshot" initiative he launched during the Obama administration following the death of his son, Beau Biden, in 2015. That effort included his push for companies to collaborate more on research. But he sounded a discordant note in praising the companies themselves -- and not the research he intended to praise specifically -- given the near-universal agreement in both parties that companies set drug prices too high, and given his own efforts to further regulate the industry.

The Biden campaign's healthcare proposal includes a segment on fighting pharmaceutical companies' price structures.

"Too many Americans cannot afford their prescription drugs, and prescription drug corporations are profiteering off of the pocketbooks of sick individuals," according to the Biden campaign website. "The Biden plan will put a stop to runaway drug prices and the profiteering of the drug industry."

His top two rivals, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have demonized pharmaceutical companies for what they consider putting profit over patient care.


"We will set the price," he said of his plan during the second Democratic debate in July, adding that "it says that you cannot raise that price beyond the cost of inflation from this point on."

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