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April 04, 2007

so much to spend.. so little time

“Pharmaceutical Federal Lobbying Spending Flourishes”

Center for Public Integrity
4/3/2007

http://www.pharmaceuticalonline.com/content/news/article.asp?DocID=%7B14928F57-8EDB-4B16-B9F0-BAD31D7B61D8%7D&Bucket=Current+Headlines&VNETCOOKIE=NO

Summary:

From January 2005 to June 2006 pharmaceutical companies spent $155 million lobbying the federal government. One of the most heavily lobbied against was the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, that “barred the federal government from negotiating on the Medicare drug prices.” Other agendas include protection of drug patents and prevention importation from Canada. It was also reported $650 million has been spend since 1998. During the same time period, the drug companies had substantial sales in the quarter trillion dollars. The ratio of pharmaceutical lobbyist to congress members to 2 to 1.

Implication to pharmacy:

In such a market driven country and economy, lobbying to protect their assets and profits is expected. However, spending $650 million in the last 8 years on lobbying, is a new level. This could have been a cost saving transfer to consumers, instead of trying to prevent amendments and bills from decreasing their business. If the companies were fair to begin with, then no one would want legislative bills against the companies to decrease their profits. Previously articles have representatives from pharmaceutical companies concerned about safety and counterfeiting of importing drugs. Of course their primary concern is their loss of any potential profit. If these are the same manufacturers that are selling these drugs oversees, there should be no difference in safety and efficacy, unless its made differently for each country which is highly doubtful. Importation would not be an issue if prescription drug prices were more reasonable to the American public. With all the money they’re spending on lobbying, they could just lower the prices to the consumer and the issue would not be so prevalent in the public.

Moreover, pharmacists are involved in pharmaceutical company’s processes. In a way, this a negative impact on the pharmacists who do work for industry as greedy individuals, but these are also individuals who are establishing drugs available to the public to help with medical conditions. The drug development process is long and extensive, so of course the company would like their investment returned substantially and before their patent is expired. We need to ask though, how much is enough in return? With a business driven mentality, pharmacists are not in charge. Business is in charge, and money is the main driver. This is where we are, profit driven health care system with consumers paying. In essence, we are consumers also and we are all apart of an uncontrollable process in a free market world for people’s health.

Posted by aluong at April 4, 2007 12:15 AM

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