Obama’s ‘Radical’ Health Care Plan
Friday, February 27, 2009 at 11:59 am
Pharma Times, news site of the drug industry, is calling the emerging outlines of the Obama health care plan “radical.” Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing, depends on which sector of the industry you talk to.
Makers of generic drugs, for example, are smiling. Kathleen Jaeger, president of the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, said Obama’s plan promises to “substantially reduce health care costs by increasing access to quality care at affordable prices.”
Big Pharma is not so happy. That’s because Obama has now committed to limiting exclusive rights to new medicine to five years and to existing drugs for three years, compared to the 14 years that has been sought by the big pharmaceutical companies that develop the drugs. The new approach would transform billions in drug company profits into billions of dollars of consumer savings, making the whole trillion dollar package just a little more affordable.
Billy Tauzin, the former Lousianiana congressman turned president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (salary: $2 million a year), murmured about the importance of drug innovation but said “PhRMA is committed to working with President Obama and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.”
Translated into plain English, Tauzin is promsing a lobbying blitz to curb generics, spearheaded by the likes of Pfizer (which spent $12.1 million lobbying and gave $1.8 million in political contributions in 2008); AmGen ($10.1 million in lobbying; $1.4 million in contributions); and GlaxoSmithKline ($7 milion in lobbying; $1.1 million in contributions).
But in a sign of how times have changed, Tauzin, who opposed the Clinton administration’s health care plan in 1993, isn’t going rejectionist. He also warmly endorsed the goal of covering all Americans, extolled S-CHIP, and said health care reform is integral to economic recovery.
In other words, radical change is on the table.
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