Big Pharma is Fueling Republicans’ Radical MAGA Agenda for 2025

Big Pharma 2025

Big Pharma has invested big money in the organizations planning what a MAGA policy agenda will look like in a new Trump administration. Not surprisingly, that policy playbook contains a major gift for the drug industry: a swift end to the Biden administration’s landmark program to allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices.

For two decades, Congress barred Medicare from negotiating prescription drug prices, which is a major reason why Americans pay higher prices for drugs than anyone else in the world. In 2022, Democrats finally passed legislation creating a price negotiation pilot program. 

The same year, Washington’s top drug lobby — Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA — donated $530,000 to groups involved with the far-right Project 2025 agenda. The agenda, which is meant to serve as a policy roadmap for the early days of a new Donald Trump presidency, includes a call to repeal the new provisions allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

The provisions are one of the most popular achievements of the Joe Biden presidency, with 76 percent of Americans supporting Medicare drug-price negotiations, including two thirds of Republicans. Only 6 percent of Americans outright oppose the policy, according to recent polling by the Associated Press.

So it’s not surprising that Big Pharma would fund front groups willing to wage an unpopular battle to boost drug manufacturers’ bottom lines — PhRMA has long done so with organizations on both sides of the aisle. However, the lobbying group’s donations to the organizations behind Project 2025 implicates the pharmaceutical industry in an extremist conservative plan that calls for eliminating access to the abortion pill, allowing states to ban hospitals from providing emergency abortion care, and ending protections for LGBTQ+ Americans.

“We engage with different groups who have a wide array of different policy opinions and priorities,” says Alex Schriver, a senior vice president of public affairs at PhRMA. “We may not agree on every issue, but we believe engagement and dialogue is important to promoting a health care policy environment that supports innovation, a highly-skilled workforce, and access to life-saving medicines.”

PhRMA’s 2022 tax return — the most recent available — reveals the group donated $125,000 directly to the Heritage Foundation, the heavyweight conservative group that is spearheading Project 2025 and its agenda. But that agenda was produced in collaboration with an advisory board of other right-wing political groups, many of which received PhRMA dollars as well in 2022, the year work on Project 2025 began.

These donations include:

  • $125,000 to the Pacific Research Institute, which dedicates itself to “advancing free-market policy solutions” in the economic school of Milton Friedman, and believes the “starting point for any policy solution is a private, voluntary action, rather than unnecessary, and even harmful, government intervention.”
  • $110,000 to the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, which advances a national, far-right “free market” agenda, state-by-state, by introducing “model legislation” that GOP-led legislatures can copy and pass in their various statehouses.
  • $75,000 to American Commitment, which bills itself as dedicated to waging “critical public policy fights over the size and intrusiveness of government.”
  • $70,000 to FreedomWorks, infamous for its role in ginning up the Tea Party movement.
  • $25,000 to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a far-right group that’s most infamous for its work undermining climate science and touts a track record of “40 years of eliminating excessive regulation.”

In total, PhRMA donated more than half a million dollars to Project 2025-linked groups. This behind-the-scenes giving aligns with PhRMA’s overt efforts to retain drug companies’ ability to maximally gouge Americans on prescription products. 

Drug costs are so high in the U.S., first and foremost, because the government has not negotiated lower prices, as other countries do. Then there’s America’s rigged patent system, which allows companies to block competitors from selling lower-cost generic versions of their products for many years. 

This status quo allows drugmakers to reap windfall profits off patients in the United States, even as drugmakers routinely discount their most expensive drugs for sales abroad — leading to the absurdity of American consumers road-tripping to Canada to fill their prescriptions.

Maybe the most galling part of the situation is that the U.S. government subsidizes research and development on virtually all new drugs that are approved for sale. 

In passing the Inflation Reduction Act in 2022, the Biden administration fulfilled, in part, a longtime Democratic Party promise. The bill includes a pilot program empowering Medicare to negotiate prices on a handful of older, expensive drugs that help drive health care costs.

Last summer, the Biden administration selected the first 10 drugs subject to the negotiation program. All of those drugs are sold in other countries at fractions of what pharmaceutical companies charge Americans.

PhRMA has been quite open about its wish to block the Medicare price negotiations. And Project 2025 appears to carry water for the drug industry. It alleges that “government price controls” in Medicare “reduce patient access to new medication.” And it says that “this ‘negotiation’ program should be repealed.”

Critics of industry special interests rebuke PhRMA for its promotion of groups behind Project 2025. “Drug industry CEOs and lobbyists are desperate to take away Medicare’s new negotiation power and stop the Biden administration from lowering costs for seniors,” says Liz Zelnick, a director at the watchdog group Accountable.US. “PhRMA will stop at nothing to restore their price-gouging scheme against struggling seniors.”

The Project 2025 agenda calls for extreme restrictions on women’s reproductive health care, which PhRMA ostensibly opposes. The drug lobby has weighed in at the Supreme Court seeking to preserve the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the abortion pill mifepristone, arguing that to do otherwise would upend a “settled regulatory scheme.”


As Rolling Stone reported last month, conservatives’ Project 2025 blueprint “explicitly names their intention not just to rescind FDA approval for the abortion pill … but to revive a 150-year-old law that criminalizes sending or receiving” any abortion drug through the mail.

If the pharmaceutical industry really wants to promote access to life-saving medicines, as its top lobbying group says — and not just its bottom line — it would not be bankrolling organizations involved with Project 2025. 

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