Our “liberal” senators: Apparently *not* in the pocket of PhRMA (updated)

Update: From Senator Kerry’s online coordinator:

John Kerry and Ted Kennedy have both worked for drug re-importation for a long time. And I know that John Kerry has never taken PhRMA money, so he’s not in their pocket by any means. I was assured personally that both of them are totally committed to bringing up the Dorgan amendment to another bill. Where it will pass. This *will* pass the Senate.

In this case, however, the underlying bill wouldn’t have passed without the “safety” provision (which we all know kills the re-importation for now). And there’s a lot in the underlying bill that’s important to get through, and a lot that PhRMA doesn’t like about it. It reinstates the fees they pay when they apply for patents. It forces them to be more transparent in their safety and testing regimes. And it creates a situation where pediatric medicines get a higher priority than they do now.

This bill also closes some of the gaps in our food safety testing that has allowed outbreaks of disease in our food recently.

This is not about killing re-importation or being in the pocket of PhRMA (neither of our Senators fits that description). This is about choosing the best avenues to get results. The drug re-importation will pass the Senate. And our Senators will be part of why.

Well, if that’s true, I cheerfully withdraw my objections. My original, and apparently premature, post is below.

—-

Senators Kerry and Kennedy voted to scotch Sen. Dorgan’s bill for drug re-importation from other countries:

WASHINGTON- In a triumph for the pharmaceutical industry, the Senate yesterday killed a drive to allow consumers to buy prescription drugs from abroad at a significant savings over domestic prices.

On a 49-40 vote, the Senate required the administration to certify the safety and effectiveness of imported drugs before they can be imported, a requirement that officials have said they cannot meet.

“Well, once again the big drug companies have proved that they are the most powerful and best financed lobby in Washington,” said Sen. David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican.

Democratic Massachusetts Sens. Edward M. Kennedy and John F. Kerry both voted for the safety certification that nullified the chance for lower-cost drugs.

The vote neutralized a second amendment, later passed on a voice vote, that would legalize the importation of prescription drugs made in Canada, Australia, Europe, Japan and New Zealand.

Wow. Don’t ever think your representatives actually represent you. They’re looking out for someone else. Godzilla vs. Mothra politics continues, a great battle of special interests, before which the masses flee.

Of course, the real question is Why the hell do we have to re-import drugs from other countries at all? Why do Americans get the privilege of paying the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs?

This is PhRMA’s world; we just live in it. Pay up.

This post was originally published with Soapblox and contains additional formatting and metadata.
View archived version of this post
.



Discuss

3 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. To engage in the dialogue here ...

    John Kerry and Ted Kennedy have both worked for drug re-importation for a long time. And I know that John Kerry has never taken PhRMA money, so he's not in their pocket by any means. I was assured personally that both of them are totally committed to bringing up the Dorgan amendment to another bill. Where it will pass. This will pass the Senate.

    In this case, however, the underlying bill wouldn't have passed without the "safety" provision (which we all know kills the re-importation for now). And there's a lot in the underlying bill that's important to get through, and a lot that PhRMA doesn't like about it. It reinstates the fees they pay when they apply for patents. It forces them to be more transparent in their safety and testing regimes. And it creates a situation where pediatric medicines get a higher priority than they do now.

    This bill also closes some of the gaps in our food safety testing that has allowed outbreaks of disease in our food recently.

    This is not about killing re-importation or being in the pocket of PhRMA (neither of our Senators fits that description). This is about choosing the best avenues to get results. The drug re-importation will pass the Senate. And our Senators will be part of why.

    • thanks for the response...

      I was baffled when I saw that K&K voted for this amendment.  This helps to explain.  My question though is how a stand-alone reimportation bill will pass the Senate if it cannot pass attached to a broader FDA bill?  Are there really senators who are in favor of the reimport bill but opposed to the other positive changes you described in the underlying bill?  It seems to me that is the only way what you're saying is possible when you say it's the only way to get the bill "passed" in the Senate.  Or have the Rs agreed not to filibuster either a standalone reimport bill or the other provisions if you send them through as separate bills?  (If so, I hope they are on the record about this... I would trust them, and their big Pharma friends, about as far as I could throw them... how many times do we have to get burnt here?)  Or is this a WH veto issue---i.e., W will veto anything with a reimport rider and K&K really want the other provisions passed now?

      I really hope it's not the latter.  So far as I'm concerned we should pile up the bills on W's desk and let 1000 vetoes bloom.  Attaching popular changes to the reimport bill would seem to put more pressure on him to let the bill go.

      • it's a good question

        And there's not a simple answer. Basically, the FDA bill is so huge, with so many provisions that need to pass, and it still has quite a few controversial parts to it. For example, there are some folks who don't like the new testing regime for food. Others don't like the provisions that deal with the transparency and other requirements on drug testing. And on and on ...

        And all of these were in jeopardy with the re-importation issue thrown into the mix. The bill does a lot of good stuff, stuff that's been needed for a while, and there's only so much you can do with each bill. Re-importation needs a cleaner bill to attach itself to. In the end, the strategy is not to get just the FDA bill passed, or just the re-importation implemented ... it's to do both of those things.

        And, yes, there is the Bush veto to consider. Re-importation is very popular in the broad public, and if it's attached to a more stand-alone legislation, with a better build up of activism around it, it's possible to either make the cost of the veto too high, or even gain a veto-proof majority (you think Coleman, Sununu, Collins from border states want to vote with Bush on that one?).

        John Kerry and Ted Kennedy are two of the biggest proponents of drug re-importation in the whole Senate. This vote yesterday by the two of them was just about maximizing the chances that it and the FDA bill become a reality.

« Blue Mass Group Front Page

Add Your Comments

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Sun 31 Aug 4:19 AM