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Dealing With Big Pharma

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, August 14, 2009 11:51 AM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Health Care Reform, Pharmaceutical Industry, Obama, PhRMA

The White House has agreed to some back-door deals with Big Pharma.



IMAGE SOURCE:  Wikipedia Commons/ White House


Details Coming Out

While much of the health care debate has been very public, details of the very private negotiations between the White House and the pharmaceutical industry are becoming public.    

Last June and July, the White House, in closed-door meetings with the pharmaceutical industry, executives and lobbyists, struck a deal with the White House to back Mr. Obama’s health care reform with the industry promising to save Americans $80 billion in the cost of drugs.

A $150 million television campaign by the pharmaceutical industry supporting the Obama plans is already running.   

The profits generated by the drug industry have long been considered part of the problem of escalating costs. 

The Deal

Friday, MSNBC reported on a memo that was leaked concerning details. 

The White House says it does not reflect the deal that was struck, reports NBC’s Savannah Guthrie

What both sides admit to is the drug industry, represented by its lobbying group PhRMA, will contribute $80 billion over the next decade to the cost of health care. 

What does the White house give as part of the quid pro quo deal?

Speaking on MSNBC, Ryan Grim, reports, “The biggest concession is the donut hole provision, where they will give a discount to seniors for this donut hole, period where Medicare is not picking up your drug coverage.  But remember pharma sets prices, so to slash prices by 50 percent from what they already set it, this is $400 dollars…”  

Another concession agreed to by the White House, reportedly involves keeping government out of drug price negotiations.  

Grim says, “They want to oppose allowing consumers to import cheaper drugs from Canada. The U.S. consumer pays many times more than other countries for pharmaceuticals, so what a lot of patients do is order their drugs from Canada and have them shipped down, they call it reimportation, because they are made in the U.S. then shipped to Canada.”

What about the importance of the Democratic process in all of this back-room deal making? asks Dylan Ratigan of MSNBC.

Guthrie reports the White House believes it’s important to have the industry at the table.  “They feel it’s important to deal with the hospitals, doctors, the insurers and so forth and try to extract the best deal they can get.”

When asked by NBC what the White House had agreed to in return for the deal, Robert Gibbs, White House spokesman told NBC, “I can assure you we’ve come to an agreement to seek some savings from the pharmaceutical industry as part of comprehensive health care.”

Congress Upset

The deal has angered some members of Congress she says who may have wanted more concessions from industry. 

Henry Waxman, D-California, tells CBS they are not bound by this agreement.  “And we feel strongly that the drug companies shouldn’t get off with a windfall at the expense of our seniors.”

Congress is upset about the deal says democratic strategist, Karen Finney to MSNBC.  It puts the White House in an awkward position “because Congress feels they can’t be trusted because they’re cutting deals they’re not a part of.”  The administration should have thought about that, she says. 

Dr. Sydney Wolfe, public health advocate with Public Citizen, says there is reason to be skeptical.

“We’ll give you this we’ll give you this, all sort of off the record, not really incorporate in any sort of legislation and I believe in the long run it’s a bad deal for the American public but a good deal for the pharmaceutical industry.”

Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary now with University of California Berkeley, in his blog, reports any bonanza to the drug industry means higher health care costs for all. “That's basically the same deal George W. Bush struck in getting the Medicare drug benefit, and it's proven a bonanza for the drug industry. A continuation will be an even larger bonanza, given all the Boomers who will be enrolling in Medicare over the next decade. And it will be a gold mine if the deal extends to Medicaid, which will be expanded under most versions of the healthcare bills now emerging from Congress, and to any public option that might be included.”

This Sunday, “Meet the Press” will devote the entire hour to the health care debate including Dick Armey, Tom Daschel, Tom Coburn, and Rachel Maddow.  #

1 Comment

Anonymous User
Posted by Lillian Katz
Tuesday, August 18, 2009 4:16 PM EST

The Consumer is deprived of the truth. Elected and appointed officials are influneced by the Pharmaceuticals. In fact, every industry is dominated by Corporate Power to direct and influnce our laws. It is all about money--read the financial disclosuresof all elected and appointed officials----all have investments with the pharmaceuticals.

Comments for this article are closed.

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