Pharmaceutical companies have been punching bags for Democratic presidential candidates throughout the 2020 primary — but now that they are needed to produce a vaccine for coronavirus, attacking them doesn’t look so good.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has led the campaign to vilify pharmaceutical companies, even comparing them to murderers for charging high prices for life-saving medicines. “The outrageous greed of the pharmaceutical industry is going to end,” he has said at campaign rallies.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who is reportedly close to the medical device industry, has nevertheless slammed the pharmaceutical industry. “They don’t own me” is her repeated refrain at campaign events.
And Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has also attacked the pharmaceutical companies as “greedy.”
Yet today, the government’s response to coronavirus depends on pharmaceutical companies in the private sector, as the public demands a vaccine for coronavirus and faster testing processes for diagnosing the contagious illness.
I am meeting with the major pharmaceutical companies today at the White House about progress on a vaccine and cure. Progress being made!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 2, 2020
The attack on pharmaceutical companies was always somewhat odd, as their support was necessary to the passage of Obamacare — a policy that all of the Democratic presidential candidates support, even if some want to replace it with “Medicare for All.”
Big Pharma did a deal with the Obama administration in 2010 in which it would spend $150 million in advertising to support the health insurance overhau — largely on political ads to defend vulnerable Democrats who had voted for Obamacare — as long as its commercial interests were protected.
In return, Democrats have returned to demonizing the companies.
But now that they are needed once again, attacking pharmaceutical companies is not such a good look.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.