(Bloomberg) — The head of Pfizer, America’s biggest drugmaker, said that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s proposals to contain the price of pharmaceuticals would be “very negative” for the industry and are a step toward single-payer health care.
Pfizer CEO Ian Read criticized Clinton’s plan, which she released earlier this month, at an investor conference hosted by Wells Fargo in Boston. Clinton’s prescription drug policy would give the government a broad role in overseeing drug prices, including a board to monitor sharp cost increases, and would specifically target price hikes on older medicines.
“The Clinton approach to health care drives you to a one-payer system, and drives you to rationing, drives you to a place where most consumers don’t want to be,” Read said. “In its totality it would be very negative for innovation.”
Clinton’s criticism of drugmakers has set up a showdown between the nominee and the industry going into the November election. Pharmaceutical companies, particularly ones that have raised prices on older drugs, have been frequent targets of politicians in both parties. While Read has occasionally waded into debates about U.S. tax and health policy, the remarks are some of his strongest yet on the topic.
In a statement, Clinton campaign spokeswoman Julie Wood said that the candidate has called for expanding investments in innovation for health care.
“She’s said clearly that our pharmaceutical and biotech industries are great sources of innovation and she wants to support their development of new treatments,” Wood said. “But she shares the outrage of Americans who have been subjected to unjustified price hikes for treatments that have long been on the market, and she’s going to hold drug companies accountable when they put profits before patients.”
Pfizer’s employees have contributed $115,091 to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, compared with $2,100 to Republican Donald Trump, according to Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign donations. In total, the drugmaker’s employees or political affiliates have given $1.25 million this election cycle, with the majority of those dollars going to Republicans. The Center’s data runs through June 27, according to its website.
The industry has also started television ad campaigns in an effort to defend what it says are breakthrough, life-saving cures that the country needs to support. Pfizer has a series of ads titled “Before It Became a Medicine” that emphasizes the long effort and expense that goes into drug development.
Read said that costs on new drugs will come down if there’s enough competition from other drugmakers.