Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, known for going head-to-head with Wall Street, has a new enemy in her sights – the pharmaceutical industry.
Warren announced on Thursday a new bill that, according to Mother Jones, addresses “dwindling government investment in medical research and illegal practices by major pharmaceutical companies.” The bill, known as the Medical Innovation Act, would take money from fines charged to major medicine companies that are found to have been involved in illegal practices and put it towards research at the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health.
Warren laid out her proposal during a speech at the Families USA Health Action Conference in Washington, D.C.
“It's like a swear jar,” Warren said. “Whenever a huge drug company that is generating enormous profits as a result of federal research investments gets caught breaking the law—and wants off the hook—it has to put some money in the jar to help fund the next generation of medical research.”
The pharmaceutical industry opposes Warren’s bill, saying it would take funding away that furthers research.
“The National Institutes of Health plays a vital role in basic research and early discovery, and we support sufficient federal funding for their work,” Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America Vice President Robert Zirkelbach said in a statement. “But pursuing misguided policies that siphon funding from the groundbreaking medical research happening in the biopharmaceutical industry will have devastating consequences for patients and society. The proposed legislation would result in fewer medicines for patients and lost jobs at a time when our economy can least afford it."
Democrats promptly rejected the notion that the Medical Innovation Act would negatively impact research funding.
Whether or not Warren’s bill would pass is anyone’s guess, as both Democrats and Republicans rely on the pharmaceutical industry for donations. Warren acknowledged this obstacle in her speech, but remained dedicated to fighting for the proposal.
“I don't kid myself. I know how difficult it is to get things done in Washington,” she said. “We are not a nation that abandons the sick. And we are not a nation that says, 'I've got mine; the rest of you are own your own.' We are a nation of people who work together. We are nation of people who invest in each other."