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Ex-energy trader takes on high drug prices

John Arnold, a former energy trader and hedge fund manager, is putting up millions of dollars to fight the pharmaceutical industry over drug prices, the Wall Street Journal reports.

By the numbers: Arnold has given $19 million to ICER, the independent organization that studies whether drugs are worth what they cost.

  • Arnold and his wife have pledged another $5.7 million to I-MAK, an organization that challenges patents of brand name drugs.
  • Another $1 million went to Civica Rx, the drugmaker founded by a consortium of hospitals to produce generic drugs.
  • Arnold's foundation also funds the advocacy group Patients for Affordable Drugs, which has taken on industry allies from both political parties.

Why it matters: The pharmaceutical industry is so powerful and has remained free from political intervention for so long, in part because it's enormously well-funded — both in its direct lobbying and in its advocacy work.

  • No one person is likely to outmatch the entire drug industry, but Arnold's foundation controls assets of more than $2 billion, per WSJ. That's more than the Red Cross — and enough to provide a credible counterweight to pharma.
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