Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Bitter Pill

Tom Hamburger, writing for the LA Times reports that former Louisiana congressman, Billy Tauzin, now representing the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, says his organization has pledged $80 billion over 10 years in cost savings as well as political support for President Obama's health care reform initiative. What's the catch? In return for their support, PhRMA wants the White House to take importing cheaper drugs from Canada or Europe off the table, as well as forswearing Medicare drug price bargaining. The article is chock full of quotes likely to make you sick. Like this:
Yet everyone agrees that drug companies -- Washington's leading source of lobbyist money -- now have "a seat at the table" at the White House and on Capitol Hill as health care legislation works its way through Congress. If nothing else, a popular president who six months ago criticized drug companies for greed now praises their work on behalf of the public good.
And this:
In 2005 and 2006, during Tauzin's first two years at PhRMA, just a third of the industry's $19.5 million in campaign donations went to Democrats. Tauzin came into the organization, he said, determined to make it more bipartisan and more generally appealing to the public. This year, for the first time in two decades, Democrats have so far picked up more of the industry's campaign cash -- 54% -- than Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
And finally this:
In just the last four months, the industry has spent $68 million on lobbying in Washington, assuring its continued standing atop the nation's lobbyist spending list.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a champion of importing drugs from Canada and reducing the cost of pharmaceuticals, professes continued suspicion of the industry, including its deals with the White House.
"The drug companies form the most powerful lobby in Washington," he said. "They never lose."

Hold your nose and read the rest here.

Photo by Brooks Elliott

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