As Expected, Drug Makers Score Early Wins as Plan Takes Shape

Print Friendly

action.alert.red

STRAIGHT FROM THE

HORSE’S MOUTH–

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL  JULY 17, 2009

Drug Makers Score Early Wins as Plan Takes Shape

By ALICIA MUNDY and LAURA MECKLER

Cyrano_says

As this account makes clear, there’s a zillion ways they can water down this critical plan and laugh behind the backs of the public. Centrist Democrats claim they’re “hamstrung”, but they tied themselves up through their corruption and political cowardice.


WASHINGTON — The pharmaceuticals industry, which President Barack Obama promised to “take on” during his campaign, is winning most of what it wants in the health-care overhaul.

The final contours of the legislation are far from settled, but the industry, led by a onetime powerful congressman, has notched a string of victories.

Legislation expected soon in the powerful Senate Finance Committee will leave out cost-cutting steps as part of an agreement with the industry and the White House, according to Congressional aides, industry lobbyists and others involved in the talks.

The missing items include two planks of Mr. Obama’s campaign platform: allowing cheaper drugs to be imported from Canada and giving the federal government the right to negotiate Medicare drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies.

While the industry has engaged in vigorous lobbying just as Mr. Obama took office, that alone doesn’t explain all the success. Reimportation and Medicare drug-price negotiation are largely symbolic and Congressional researchers have said they won’t save much money in the long run.

The missing items include two planks of Mr. Obama’s campaign platform: allowing cheaper drugs to be imported from Canada and giving the federal government the right to negotiate Medicare drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies.

Meanwhile, a separate Senate committee voted this week as part of its health bill to give branded biotechnology drugs at least 12 years of market exclusivity, a defeat for makers of cheaper copycat medicines. “This is the best year the drug industry has had in decades,” said Nancy LeaMond of AARP, the seniors’ lobby, which is seeking greater price-cutting on drugs.

Billy_tauzin

Bill Tauzin, Big Pharma’s front boy,  proves that crooks can easily come from all backgrounds, regardless of class or ethnic flavor. Wilbert Joseph Tauzin, II, usually known as Billy Tauzin, (born June 14, 1943), an American politician of Cajun descent, was a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1980 to 2005, representing Louisiana’s 3rd congressional district.  For 15 years, Tauzin was one of the more conservative Democrats in the United States House of Representatives, a remarkable feat considering how conservative most “representatives of the people” are. Showing that in-your-face lack of principles is rarely punished in America, on August 8, 1995 Tauzin himself became a Republican, claiming that conservatives were no longer welcome in the Democratic Party. He soon became a Deputy majority whip. He is the first American to have been part of the leadership of both parties in the House. Regardless of party, Tauzin remained very popular at home. After 1980, he was reelected 12 more times without major-party opposition; the first nine of those completely unopposed. Thank the good people of Louisiana for burdening the nation with this shameless and irredeemable piece of scum. [—Eds]

Pharmaceutical firms say cutting drug prices would hurt innovation and make it harder to bring new medicines to market, and say they are making sacrifices as part of the health-care overhaul.

Last month, the industry agreed to what Mr. Obama touted at the White House as $80 billion over 10 years in give-backs to help pay for expanded health insurance. About $50 billion of the total is available to help pay for the overhaul, expected to cost $1 trillion over a decade.

The remainder comes from an agreement to sell more brand-name drugs to certain Medicare beneficiaries at a 50% discount — which saves those seniors money but also generates new business for the industry. White House spokeswoman Linda Douglass said the deal represented “an unprecedented commitment” from “an industry that has opposed health-reform efforts in the past.”

The pharmaceuticals industry has a war chest it can use either to back a health-care bill or rally public support against it.

Already radio spots helped secure congressional support for extended protection for biotech drugs.

If Mr. Obama retreats on some drug-industry issues, it might help him land a much bigger prize: a broad health-care bill. “The motivation for the White House and Finance Committee is to take PhRMA and its money out of any possible opposition, and that’s really what’s driving these agreements, along with the desire to get financing for the bill,” said John Rother, another AARP lobbyist, referring to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. “Think about who has money enough to cause a problem.”

On Thursday, PhRMA and the liberal group Families USA unveiled television ads featuring “Harry and Louise,” the fictional couple in ads that helped defeat health legislation during the Clinton administration. In the new ads, the couple now favors a health overhaul.

PhRMA didn’t respond to requests for comment on its ad strategy.

Some Democrats, including Mr. Obama, have pushed Congress to establish a pathway for generic biological drugs. But the Senate health committee voted this week to give biologics 12 years of market exclusivity — separate from any patent protection they might enjoy. The White House had proposed seven years.

Last month, when it seemed that the bill would be more favorable to generics, Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc., a big generics maker, announced the acquisition of Arrow Group of Europe for $1.7 billion as a platform to develop biologics. “Now we have to rethink our strategy,” said Watson Chief Executive Paul Bisaro. “We’re all very disappointed.”

In a statement, the Biotechnology Industry Organization said the 12-year window is a “fair and reasonable period to ensure continued biomedical innovation.”

PhRMA is headed by former Republican Rep. Billy Tauzin, who was chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and began reaching out to Democrats shortly after Mr. Obama was elected.

He was among the first people in the health-care industry to sit down in negotiations with the administration when it took office. That effort came to fruition with the June announcement of the $80 billion deal. “I think they probably are the most effective and well-financed health stakeholder group in the country,” said Ron Pollack, president of Families USA.


The House bill includes about $30 billion more in cuts to the drug industry than the Senate version, according to calculations by outside analysts. It also contains one particular measure that drug companies don’t like. When the Medicare drug benefit went into effect, certain seniors who were getting drug coverage through Medicaid moved on to the new Medicare program. “It was like a $2 billion-a-year windfall for drug companies,” said Rep. Henry Waxman (D., Calif.), because Medicare prices are higher.

The House bill proposes rebates that would take back that money, but the Senate Finance Committee left that out, and the White House declined to say whether it supports the effort to impose the rebates.

The Finance Committee had proposed using this policy as a stick to make sure that drug companies gave seniors the 50% discount they were promising as part of the $80 billion deal. Drug makers found that objectionable, and the announcement of the agreement was delayed for 48 hours while they found another enforcement mechanism, according to one lobbyist involved.

Republished under Fair Use statutes.

•••••

RELATED FEATURE

A MESSAGE FROM DENNIS KUCINICH

Date: Fri, 17 Jul 2009
From: Dennis Kucinich <reply@kucinichforcongress.ccsend.com> (on
behalf of Dennis Kucinich)
Subject: Exciting Healthcare Update
To: david.anderson@colorado.edu



Dennis Kucinich –
www.Kucinich.us

Exciting Healthcare Update

Dear Friends,

With your support, your phone calls, your emails, we won a major
legislative victory today for a state single payer health care option
in the House of Representatives in Washington, DC. The House Education
and Labor Committee approved the Kucinich Amendment by a vote of
27-19, with 14 Democrats and 13 Republicans voting yes.

The amendment propels the growing single payer health care movement at
the state level. There are at least ten states which have active
single payer efforts in their legislatures. They are California,
Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Ohio,
Pennsylvania and Washington. The amendment mandates a single payer
state will receive the right to waive the application of the Employee
Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which has in the past been
used to nullify efforts to expand state or local government health
care.

Under the Kucinich Amendment a state’s application for a waiver from
ERISA is granted automatically if the state has signed into law a
single payer plan. With the amendment, for the first time, the state
single payer health care option is shielded from an ERISA-based legal
attack. Now that the underlying bill has been passed, as amended, by
the full committee, we must make sure that Congress knows that we want
the provision kept in the bill at final passage!

The state single payer option was one of five major amendments which I
obtained support to get included in HR3200. One amendment brings into
standard coverage for the first time complementary and alternative
medicine, (integrative medicine). Another amendment drives down the
cost of prescription drugs by ending pharmaceutical industry’s sharp
practices manipulating physician prescribing habits. An amendment
stops the insurance industry from increasing premiums at the time when
people are not permitted to change health plans; and finally an
amendment imposing a requirement on insurance companies that they
disclose the cost of advertising, marketing and executive compensation
expenses (which generally divert money from patient care).

Please make sure you post this message on your social networking site,
ask all your friends to get involved and encourage everyone you know
to sign up at www.Kucinich.us so we can build full momentum behind
this movement for real health care.

Let’s do this!
Dennis

2 comments on “As Expected, Drug Makers Score Early Wins as Plan Takes Shape
  1. Billy Tauzin epitomizes the worst example of politicians who sell their votes for monetary gain.
    While in Congress Tauzin represented the drug lobby and pushed through the Bush senior drug plan.
    Seniors, hammered by high drug prices were crying bloody murder.
    So Tauzin worked out a deal. The drug companies wouldn’t give an inch. Instead, Bush would send the seniors bills to the American taxpayer.
    It was a win for seniors…it was a win for the drug companies…it was a big loss for American taxpayers.

    Not surprisingly Tauzin left his job in congress to go to work for…you guessed it…the drug company.

    His million dollars plus salary is payback for all the goodies he delivered to the drug lobby for all those years in congress.

    Nowadays lobbyist don’t wrap money in paper sacks and shove it under the Congressman’s door. They wait till he leaves office and then hands him the sack in the guise of a “salary”.

    The American system of government is so corrupt, America ranks #17 on the corruption index…

  2. Norris, you’re so damned right. What gets me is the passivity of the American public, maybe a result of long conditioning by media, etc.

    The worst hypocrisy is however that we go around the world toppling other governments and invading and murdering whole nations in the name of exporting our brand of democracy. Is that a laugh or what? We’re so cynically corrupt it really takes a special type of gall for our politicians to stand there and pontificate to the world. But they do it every day, with a straight face, while the media–the worst enabling whore around–provides the entry point into our heads. These people are criminals and should be treated as such.

    Irving Hall, Seattle

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Categories

From Punto Press


PuntoPress_DisplayAd_REV

StatCounter

wordpress stats