Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bought And Sold For Pharma Gold

By Cernig

Following on from my post earlier today about the false meme that Big Pharma is the primary cause of innovation in medical research, comes this from the AP:
Legislation aimed at speeding the availability of cheaper generic drugs has stalled in Congress in the face of major lobbying by the drug industry.

The Senate bill would ban most settlements known as ``reverse payments,'' in which a brand-name company pays a generic manufacturer to delay the introduction of the generic drug. The Federal Trade Commission, which has called on Congress to take action, says such settlements could cost American consumers billions of dollars.

An Associated Press review of lobbying reports, from July 1, 2006, through June 30, 2007, found that $38.8 million was spent by at least a dozen generic and brand-name companies and their trade associations on issues including the Senate legislation. The lobbying reports do not specify how much of that money was directed at the reverse payment bill, and they are not required by law to do so.

More than half of those expenses were piled up by the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, which represents brand-name drug companies. PhRMA spent $19.5 million in the 12-month period ending June 30 on in-house lobbying expenses, an increase of about $3 million over the previous 12-month period.

And the Generic Pharmaceutical Association reported lobbying expenses of around $420,000 for the first six months of this year. It did not report lobbying on the bill in its year-ending 2006 report. The remaining $19 million was spent by a variety of drug companies, including Bayer Corp., Schering-Plough, Pfizer and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA.
Get that? $38.8 million on lobbying in a year, and a tiny fraction of that money coming from the generic makers.

What's particularly depressing about this story is that, to sink the legislation, it will take the complicity of at least some Dems. Keep watching, see who they are.
In response to the AP findings, Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards issued a statement Tuesday saying it was ``an insult to every American that legislation to increase the availability of affordable generic drugs has been stalled in Congress as a result of lobbyists and the pharmaceutical industry.''

``Instead of protecting corporate greed, the Democratic Party needs to stand on principle and lead the way to real reform by refusing, as a party, to take campaign contributions from Washington lobbyists,'' the former North Carolina senator said.
Like that's ever going to happen.

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