Monday, May 07, 2007

Big Pharma's lobbying pays off--Dorgan amendment

Not surprising that senators (most Republican) put big bucks from big pharma over the interests and safety of American citizens. With more and more people being prescribed more and more drugs, seems like getting price gouged in top of all the pharma side effects, etc., is adding insult to injury. How did your senator vote?

From Newstarget:
On May 3rd, 2007, U.S. Senators voted on an amendment to the 2007 Prescription Drug User Fee bill that aims to reform the FDA and enhance drug safety. This amendment, known as the "Dorgan Amendment No. 990," threatened to break Big Pharma's monopoly over pharmaceutical sales and allow U.S. consumers, cities, states and businesses to purchase their pharmaceuticals from safety-certified pharmacies located in Canada, Japan, the U.K. and other nations.

Americans currently pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. Canadians, Europeans, and even citizens of Mexico pay only about one-half to as little as one-tenth the price paid by Americans for the very same chemicals. Drug companies actually import many of the raw materials used in pharmaceuticals from other countries, meaning that some U.S. medicines are already sourced from countries like the U.K. and Germany.

Drug companies mark up their prescription drugs as much as 569,000% over the price of the raw materials. (A typical markup is more in the 30,000% - 50,000% range.) Retailing pharmaceuticals is hugely profitable. There is no business in the world with more profit built in to the retail price of the product. The purpose of restricting Americans from buying drugs from other countries is to enforce a medical monopoly in the United States, forcing consumers to purchase drugs at the highest prices in the world, further padding the profits of powerful and influential pharmaceutical corporations who exert strong influence over the Bush Administration and Republican lawmakers.

The FDA has, over the past several years, colluded with drug companies to maintain a monopoly market in the United States in order to protect those profits. It has taken actions such as raiding a bus load of senior citizens returning to the U.S. from Canada, searching the elderly for legal drugs. The FDA has gone to great lengths to pressure U.S. customs to seize pharmaceutical shipments being imported for sale to individual consumers in the United States, and it has even invoked the fantasy-based fear tactic of suggesting that terrorists might adulterate pharmaceuticals coming to the U.S. from Canada (and therefore we should all buy our drugs only from U.S. monopoly-controlled pharmacies because of "terrorists").

The Dorgan amendment, entitled, "Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act of 2007," proposes what is essentially a free trade policy on prescription medications. It would allow Americans to buy their drugs from certain certified organizations registered as valid importers or exporters. The bill states, "...a prescription drug is neither safe nor effective to an individual who cannot afford it," and goes on to describe rigorous safety requirements that would be required by the amendment, including safety inspections and registrations as well as funding efforts to locate and shut down fraudulent internet sales of counterfeit prescription drugs.

If passed into the law, this amendment would save U.S. citizens, businesses, and government entities (local, state and federal) billions of dollars each year by allowing them to source medications in a price competitive environment. Many cities and states are right now facing the very real possibility of bankruptcy due to health care costs (providing benefits to current and former government employees). A large percentage of those costs are spent on monopoly-priced pharmaceuticals. This Dorgan amendment would set city and state governments free to finally engage in fundamental free market price comparisons and save substantial sums of money in sourcing the very same chemical medications for their employees and retirees.

28 Republicans voted against the Dorgan amendment, voting to enforce the pharmaceutical monopoly and keep Big Pharma in control of virtually the entire U.S. medication market. There were no Democrats that voted against the amendment. But why would 28 Republican Senators vote against breaking a marketplace monopoly and encouraging the use of free market economics to save American consumers billions of dollars? The answer isn't complicated: Because nearly all of them have taken money from pharmaceutical companies!

Here's the list of the 28 Senators who voted to protect Big Pharma's monopoly:

Alexander (R-TN)
Allard (R-CO)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Cochran (R-MS)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
Dole (R-NC)
Domenici (R-NM)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hagel (R-NE)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Lugar (R-IN)
McConnell (R-KY)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Roberts (R-KS)
Stevens (R-AK)
Sununu (R-NH)
Thomas (R-WY)
Voinovich (R-OH)

These Senators cite "safety concerns" as a reason for enforcing a U.S. monopoly on prescription drugs and allowing Big Pharma to bilk Americans out of billions of dollars by operating an obvious profiteering scheme. But the truth is that the price you pay for a drug does not affect its safety. And those concerned that adulterated medications from other countries might harm patients conveniently forget that FDA-approved drugs sold in the United States already kill 100,000 Americans each year. It would be difficult to find any source more dangerous than the pharmacies operating in the U.S. right now.

Medications are universally dangerous because they are made from synthetic chemicals that simply do not belong in the human body. Every drug has unintended side effects which include nutritional deficiencies, biochemical imbalances, liver damage, heart damage and even death. Vioxx alone -- which was approved by the FDA and heavily pushed by drug company advertising -- reportedly killed well over 50,000 Americans according to the FDA's own senior drug safety scientist Dr. David Graham. The idea that prescription drugs are safe is ludicrous, and trying to "ensure drug safety" by forcing Americans to pay the highest prices in the world for dangerous synthetic chemicals is a logical fallacy and nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to protect the profiteering drug racket while claiming to be protecting the public.

President Bush has promised to veto the bill if the Dorgan amendment stands. Free trade for medicine simply will not be tolerated in the United States. There's too much money at stake.

read the rest and weep here.


Anonymous said...

100,000 deaths last year?!! And how many people had life altering adverse side effects? I guess it wouldn't do anyone any financial good to put our health care costs into preventitive medicine - oh, except for the consumer.


Anonymous said...

You forget to include the cost of research and safety testing that must be funded out of "big Pharma's" pocket. They have every right to recoup this cost through raising the price of the product. They are, after all, in a capatilist market.

And where's the blame on the doctors for prescribing a pill for every ailment that comes along? High blood pressure? Don't change you diet or sendentary lifestyle - I'll prescribe you a pill! Can't sleep? Again, don't change a thing - another pill!

If you don't like it, make a drug company, manufacture the drug and sell it for no profit. Turning it over to beaurocracy is not going to solve the problem.

Green Fertility Marie said...

I agree docs overprescrive bw/o considering diet, supplements, etc.

In the industrialized world, other countries do not allow drugmaking for profit! Drugs and prices are all regulated by teh govt, and that seems to work (that's why prices are lower in Canada)

Anonymous said...