Bayer Hires US Lobby Firm on Drug Issues

19.08.2022 - Germany’s Bayer has hired US lobby firm Williams & Jensen to aid its campaign for continued access to contraceptives.

The move follows June’s decision by the US Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the legislative template set by an earlier iteration of the court that guaranteed a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy.

The legislation’s overturn has led to a flurry of state-level initiatives to block access to birth control as well as abortion. Since its 2006 acquisition of German women’s health specialist Schering, Bayer has become a major player in this market and has significant interests to defend.

Under the trade names Mirena, Skyla and Kyleena, Bayer’s pharmaceuticals division produces three of the international top-selling intrauterine devices (IUDs) 

The Leverkusen-based player is currently building new state-of- the art production lines for hormonal implants and hormonal intrauterine systems at Alajuela, Costa Rica, and Turku, Finland, to secure long-term supply to meet increased global demand for long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), The  loss of the vast US market would be a decisive blow.

Bayer is also planning a state-of-the-art plant in Costa Rica that will focus on long-acting reversible contraception, including contraceptive implants and IUDs.  Start-up is scheduled for 2024.

The current state of play on access to contraceptives in a number of US states as murky. In July, a Democratic bill passed by the House of Representatives to codify the right to birth control in law, failed in the Senate due to opposition by Republicans. The administration of president Joe Biden subsequently reminded health insurers that federal laws require them to cover all forms of birth control approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with no co-pays.

Drugmakers alarmed over Medicare negotiation right

Beyond birth control, Williams & Jensen also will work on Bayer’s behalf on issues related to drug pricing. The US pharmaceutical industry has voiced opposition to a provision of the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act, which gives Medicare, the national insurance program for the elderly, the right to negotiate prices for some prescription drugs.

The freshly passed price negotiation right will take effect after the US Department of Health and Human Services publishes guidelines on the new rules. Several pharmaceutical companies are believed to poised to sue.

Trade groups such as the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) have voiced criticism. Speaking to US media, PhRMA president and CEO Stephen Ub called the Senate’s decision a “tragic loss for patients” based on a “litany of false promises.”

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist