Senate Dems Protect Big Pharma

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at 7:41 pm

In a big win for the pharmaceutical industry, the Senate on Tuesday killed legislation that would have made it easier for Americans to buy their prescription drugs from abroad, where prices are generally much cheaper.

The count was 51 to 48, nine shy of the supporters needed to overcome a filibuster. Thirty Democrats and Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.) voted to kill the provision.

The amendment, sponsored by Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), has been a week-long thorn in the side to Democratic leaders — not because they opposed the provision, but because it threatened to undermine a deal cut earlier in the year between the White House and the nation’s pharmaceutical companies. Under that agreement, the drug makers pledged up to $80 billion toward health-care reform over the next decade if Democratic leaders would withhold their support for several proposals that would cut further into the companies’ profits, including the drug re-importation provision. As a result, White House officials in recent days had urged Democrats to oppose the Dorgan-Snowe amendment, with the FDA writing a letter to senators warning that the agency “does not have clear authority over foreign supply chains.”

Under the provision, Americans would be allowed to buy FDA-approved drugs from certain countries with well-established drug-safety regimes, such as Canada, Australia Japan and those in Europe. Supporters say it will save U.S. consumers roughly $80 billion over the next decade. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the federal government would save an additional $20 billion over the same span, the result of savings to federally funded programs like Medicare.

The reason is clear: Americans pay more for pharmaceuticals than any other country in the world. Dorgan pointed out that the same Nexium prescription that costs $424 in the U.S. would cost just $67 in France, $40 in the United Kingdom, $37 in Germany and $36 in Spain.

“We shouldn’t be paying the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs,” Dorgan said. “I think it’s flat-out unfair.”

Aside from Snowe, the provision attracted the support of such influential Republicans as Sens. John McCain (Ariz) and Charles Grassley (Iowa), the ranking member of the Finance Committee.

Opponents of drug re-importation argue (1) that there’s no good way to ensure that imported drugs are safe for American consumers, and (2) that the resulting loss in drug-maker revenues would curb the research conducted by those companies, leading to the discovery and development of fewer new innovative drugs.

Critics of the latter are quick to point out that the pharmaceutical industry is perennially among the most profitable. Indeed, last year it ranked third among all industries, reaping 19.3 cents in profits for every $1 in revenues, according to Fortune Magazine.

Senate lawmakers on Tuesday also killed a weaker substitute to the Dorgan-Snowe amendment, sponsored by Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.). Both argued on Tuesday that the Dorgan amendment simply wouldn’t guarantee that the imported drugs were safe. (Strangely enough, both also voted in 2007 in favor of proceeding to a similar Dorgan-Snowe bill.)

“It’s regressive,” Menendez said Tuesday. “It hearkens back to a time when the lack of sufficient drug regulation allowed people to sell snake oil and magic elixirs that promised everything and did nothing.”

Critics in and out of the Capitol, however, say the substitute was so stringent that it will effectively prohibit drug importation. The AARP, which for years, has endorsed the Dorgan-Snowe amendment, argued that the Lautenberg-Menendez provision represents “a thinly veiled effort to undermine importation and preserve the status quo of high drug prices.”

The substitute amendment was shot down by a count of 56 to 43.

The debate proved a pickle for President Obama, who had endorsed reimportation on the campaign trail but was forced to change his tune this year for fear of losing the pharmaceutical lobby’s support for the underlying health-care reform bill.

“When you become president, you realize that the sound bites don’t always work in reality,” Ken Johnson, senior vice president of the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America, told The Washington Post this week.

The money that the drug makers have pumped into Congress in recent months couldn’t have hurt their case. Indeed, the industry has contributed roughly $7.5 million to lawmakers this year, with 57 percent going to Democrats — up from 33 percent in the 2006 cycle, and 50 percent in the 2008 cycle – according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

In terms of lobbying, the dollar figures are even higher. PhRMA, representing the brand-name drug makers, has spent more than $20 million lobbying Congress this year alone, CRP says.

“It’s really regrettable that the special interests prevail, and the power of the pharmaceutical lobby,” McCain said Tuesday. “It’s not one of the most admirable chapters in the history of the United States Senate.”

Comments

14 Comments

Tweets that mention Senate Dems Protect Big Pharma « The Washington Independent -- Topsy.com
Pingback posted December 15, 2009 @ 7:43 pm

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jabberwolf
Comment posted December 15, 2009 @ 8:08 pm

But of course…
What didnt the media get the memo ?

The democrats dont want to just protect big pharma.. they want to cash in.
The democrats are trying to extend Big Pharma patent protection rights against generic drugs from 4 years to 12 !!!!!!
Now you know why Big Pharma wants public option, contracts plus locked in 12 years of price gouging!

Change we can believe in !!


Senate Dems Protect Big Pharma « The Washington Independent « Apple Pressings
Pingback posted December 15, 2009 @ 9:09 pm

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brutallyfrank
Comment posted December 15, 2009 @ 9:47 pm

americans (including senators and congressmen) are pretty freaking stupid. i used to work in a pharmaceutical plant where they made anti-cancer, blood pressure, and other drugs. many of the active ingredients (the stuff that makes you better) were manufactured OUTSIDE of the united states, yes that's affirmative.

in fact, the huge sucking sound that can be heard… is the sound of u.s. dollars going overseas to pay for the active ingredients (and the u.s. manufacturers will claim they only make 15% profit… they overpay their foreign subsidiaries… so the dollars get sucked out of the u.s. like a rocket being launched to the moon.

the other example… the flu vaccines… most of them (including the now famed h1n1) are manufactured and packaged in bulk overseas… don't you remember the big scandal in 2002 or 2003 when the flu vaccine never made it from the U.K. to the U.S. because the U.K. manufacturing facilities were gross and disgusting and didn't meet CGMPs, good manufacturing practices… because bushed nominated that punk professor from stanford to head the fda, and he was so incompetent and inept they made him head of medicare right before the 2004 elections when they put together that shoddy prescription drug bill… he was the brother of his spokesperson from texas…family friend…etc..

so all this b.s. about questioning the safety of foreign imports is questionable chatter to divert your attention from getting lower priced prescription drugs…

what they need to really do is break up MERCK-MEDCO and investigate these pharmacy benefit management companies like CAREMARK… that's where all the fraud waste and abuse occurs… see these pharma benefit managment companies come up with all these convoluted pricing schemes and formulary policies so they can make money without affecting anyone's bottom line except your budget.

pharmaceutical companies …engage in some really sneaky deals with these pharma benefit managment companies to peddle their drugs at higher prices and restrict competition.

they also are able to modify their drugs sllightly without showing any significant improvement or innovation… just to extend patent life so generic drug companies can't make the drug cheaper and at lower cost.

for starters… drug manufacturers that make items still under patent have the worst productivity… their manufacturing process and technology sucks compared to the generics… the profit margin on a single tablet is so high that it makes up for their operational inefficiency.

anyway i said my piece… don't listent to all the b.s. active ingredients, vaccines, and remember that CIPRO drug (the anti-anthrax drug).. they are all made OUTSIDE the U.S. and shipped in from overseas…

so, WTF are they really talking about?

(preventing you from buying drugs cheaper).


About dorgan drug, sen., prescription drug amendment, drugs, senate vote, drug importation amendment | Find me About
Pingback posted December 16, 2009 @ 6:11 am

[...] In a big win for the pharmaceutical industry, the Senate on Tuesday killed legislation that would have made it easier for Americans to buy their prescription drugs from abroad, where prices are generally much cheaper. …Read Original Story: Senate Dems Protect Big Pharma – The Washington Independent [...]


About prescription drug amendment, dorgan drug, drugs, senate vote | Find me About
Pingback posted December 16, 2009 @ 8:42 am

[...] In a big win for the pharmaceutical industry, the Senate on Tuesday killed legislation that would have made it easier for Americans to buy their prescription drugs from abroad, where prices are generally much cheaper. …Read Original Story: Senate Dems Protect Big Pharma – The Washington Independent [...]


Helen & Harry
Comment posted December 16, 2009 @ 9:46 am

So thirty Democrats and the infamous Senator Lieberman (I-Connecticut) voted to effectively shut down one of the few ways for non-rich Americans to get affordable meds.

A related question: Are you going to get all enthusiastic and ring doorbells and work the phones for the Democrats in 2010? Another question: Do you know anyone who will?


Gettyup
Comment posted December 16, 2009 @ 9:59 am

I am not surprised at Udall's vote at all I never liked him he was the lessor of 2 he won on that fact. Not on his lies about what he was gonna do


You Made Me Promises Promises « Around The Sphere
Pingback posted December 16, 2009 @ 2:58 pm

[...] Mike Lillis at Washington Independent: In a big win for the pharmaceutical industry, the Senate on Tuesday killed legislation that would have made it easier for Americans to buy their prescription drugs from abroad, where prices are generally much cheaper. [...]


daveinbroomfield
Comment posted December 16, 2009 @ 4:42 pm

Drugs from outside the US are unsafe? How many Canadians, Australians, and Europeans are dying from all these unsafe drugs? How many of our drugs come from companies outside the US anyway?


kiramatalishah
Comment posted December 18, 2009 @ 11:17 pm

Everyone has their favorite way of using the internet. Many of us search to find what we want, click in to a specific website, read what’s available and click out. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because it’s efficient. We learn to tune out things we don’t need and go straight for what’s essential.
This goal-oriented way of surfing the web is largely based on short-term results. For example, finding facts to write a blog post, doing a comparison before making a purchase and reading a news site to find out what’s happening right now.
http://www.onlineuniversalwork


earlthepearl
Comment posted December 29, 2009 @ 8:05 pm

Damn to hell the republicans and democrats we don't those self serving idiots anymore we need REAL AMERICANS WHO GIVE-A-DAMN ABOUT US!!! NOT PROFITS NOT VOTES NOT GRANDSTANDING BUT DOING WHAT IS BEST FOR OUR ECONOMY AND THE AMERICANS WHO WORK HARD EVERY DAY TO SUPPORT THEIR FAMILIES NOT TO SUPPORT A BUNCH OF JAW JACKING HYPOCRITES!! WE DO NOT MEDICARE WE DO NOT MEDICAID WE DO NOT NEED HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANIES WE NEED OUR DAMN PAYCHECKS… ALL OF IT!!! THEN LET US PAY OUR DOCTORS AND HOSPITALS BY THE MONTH THE WAY WE PAY THESE CROOKS AND WE WILL BE RICHER, HEALTHIER AND HAVE THE BEST DAMN HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IN THE WORLD. WE ARE AMERICANS DAMN IT WHEN ARE WE GOING TO START ACTING LIKE AMERICANS!!! STOP LOOKING FOR SOMEONE TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR CHILD TAKE OF THEM OR YOURSELVES. TAKE CARE OF YOUR OWN HOSPITALS AND GET RID OF ALL THE CROOKS LET THE FREE MARKET SYSTEM TAKE OVER AND WE ALL WIN!!


earlthepearl
Comment posted December 30, 2009 @ 1:05 am

Damn to hell the republicans and democrats we don't those self serving idiots anymore we need REAL AMERICANS WHO GIVE-A-DAMN ABOUT US!!! NOT PROFITS NOT VOTES NOT GRANDSTANDING BUT DOING WHAT IS BEST FOR OUR ECONOMY AND THE AMERICANS WHO WORK HARD EVERY DAY TO SUPPORT THEIR FAMILIES NOT TO SUPPORT A BUNCH OF JAW JACKING HYPOCRITES!! WE DO NOT MEDICARE WE DO NOT MEDICAID WE DO NOT NEED HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANIES WE NEED OUR DAMN PAYCHECKS… ALL OF IT!!! THEN LET US PAY OUR DOCTORS AND HOSPITALS BY THE MONTH THE WAY WE PAY THESE CROOKS AND WE WILL BE RICHER, HEALTHIER AND HAVE THE BEST DAMN HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IN THE WORLD. WE ARE AMERICANS DAMN IT WHEN ARE WE GOING TO START ACTING LIKE AMERICANS!!! STOP LOOKING FOR SOMEONE TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR CHILD TAKE OF THEM OR YOURSELVES. TAKE CARE OF YOUR OWN HOSPITALS AND GET RID OF ALL THE CROOKS LET THE FREE MARKET SYSTEM TAKE OVER AND WE ALL WIN!!


2953897
Comment posted September 7, 2011 @ 12:40 pm

2953897 beers on the wall. sck was here


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