March 3, 2018 In The News

Jefferson City News Tribune: McCaskill aims to end tax breaks for pharma industry ads

America’s taxpayers subsidize pharmaceutical companies’ advertising by about $6 billion a year, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill said this week — and she’s introduced a bill in Congress to end the subsidy.

Federal law allows companies that advertise to deduct some of those costs as an expense, reducing their tax liabilities.

That’s where the subsidies occur, McCaskill said, telling reporters during a Thursday morning telephone conference call that her bill targets only the pharmaceutical industry — not every business that claims the deduction.

“Other than New Zealand, we are the only country that allows direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs,” she said. “We thought, rather than taking the step of outlawing prescription drug advertising, it would be better, at a minimum, just to take the step of not having taxpayers subsidize it.”

Her bill is an outgrowth of ongoing studies she and other senators have been making of the pharmaceutical industry.

… “We didn’t allow prescription drug advertising in this country until relatively recently — maybe two or three decades ago,” McCaskill explained. “Keep in mind, we’re not saying they can’t advertise.

“We’re just saying taxpayers shouldn’t fund it, that this shouldn’t be under-written by taxpayer money.”

Still, she predicted, the industry won’t be happy with her bill.

“I know it will be a huge fight against pharma,” McCaskill said. “But, it’s the right thing to do.”

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Read more at the Jefferson City News Tribune.