Campaigning Democratic candidates say they will push legislation that would allow Medicare to negotiate lower prices for its 42 million elderly and disabled beneficiaries, as well as increase government oversight of the drug industry. Experts predict a Democratic House will spark negative publicity for pharmaceutical firms, as well as pressure stock prices.
Polls currently show Democrats in the lead to take control of the House, though experts believe Republicans will maintain control of the Senate, making legislation passage more difficult.
Big Pharma firms have donated upwards of $9 million to Republican congressional candidates in an attempt to help them maintain a majority in the House, while $4 million has been donated to Democratic candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., a longtime critic of the drug industry, says a Democratic House could lower Medicare's drug prices by as much as 25 percent, saving the government $60 billion over the next decade.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. -- who could be named House Leader if the Democrats win -- promised to pass a bill giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices within the first 100 hours of the possible Democratic majority.
Democrats have also promised to more aggressively oversee drug pricing, regulation and other issues, which could include possible limitations on the pharmaceutical industry's direct-to-consumer marketing and approval of cheaper drug imports.
"You have to ask what (the Democrats) don't like," said Democratic lobbyist John Jonas. "They don't like Big Pharma. They're going to have a big target painted on their backs."
Big Pharma critic Mike Adams, author of "Spam Filters for Your Brain," says drug companies fear Democratic control of Congress more than they fear FDA reform.
"Big Pharma knows that if Democrats take control over Congress, the Republican-engineered Medicare drug racket will come to a rapid close," Adams said.