Big Pharma

Meant to get to this last week, but Time had a great article on how Big Pharma totally got their way in health care reform.  There's a reason they are willing to spend millions of dollars in ads in support of reform.  The details– well worth reading– are largely about how they won (bought) the rights to keep new biologics (drugs made from organic material) from facing generic competition for a dozen years.  My favorite part, though, is simply this litany of awe-inspiring statistics on their lobbying efforts:

It's understandable the drugmakers would want a roll-call accounting of
who their friends and enemies are, considering the size of the
investment they are making on Capitol Hill: in the first six months of
this year alone, drug and biotech companies and their trade
associations spent more than $110 million — that's about $609,000 a day
— to influence lawmakers, according to figures compiled by the
nonpartisan watchdog group Center for Responsive Politics. The drug
industry's legion of registered lobbyists numbers 1,228, or 2.3 for
every member of Congress. And its campaign contributions to current
members of Waxman's committee have totaled $2.6 million over the past
three years.

Is it any wonder they ended up getting the legislation they wanted regardless of whether it will be best for American consumers or our health care system as a whole? (Which, by the way, is worth your 3 minutes to read since I'm not going to summarize it).

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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