Sen. Elizabeth Warren is worried about more than big banks. She’s got Big Pharma in her sights too.
On Thursday, the Massachusetts Democrat announced a new bill, the Medical Innovation Act, which she says would address two major problems: dwindling government investment in medical research and illegal practices by major pharmaceutical companies. The bill, which she intends to introduce in the Senate next week, would take money from fines levied against major pharmaceutical companies that engaged in illegal practices and use it to fund drug research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“It’s like a swear jar,” Warren told the crowd at the Families USA Health Action Conference in Washington, according to her prepared remarks. “Whenever a huge drug company that is generating enormous profits as a result of federal research investments gets caught breaking the law—and wants off the hook—it has to put some money in the jar to help fund the next generation of medical research.”
The pharmaceutical industry opposes Warren’s proposal. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), which represents the major pharmaceutical and biomedical research companies, says the bill would result in less funding for research. The pharmaceutical sector, the group argues, already puts billions of dollars toward research and development—money that it says would dry up under Warren’s plan.