Sunday, July 03, 2005

Senator Lieberman from Pharmington, Connecticut

When last heard from Sen. Joe Lieberman (RepublicanDemocrat, Connecticut) was almost in traction from carrying water for his patrons in Big Pharma. Along with fellow Republican sweethearts Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) and Sam Brownback (R., Kansas) he has introduced the Big Pharma Obscene Profits Act (a.k.a. Bioshield II). From his Press Release celebrating his testimony before a Senate panel:
The Lieberman Hatch bill includes major incentives to enhance U.S. biologics manufacturing capacity so we can produce more vaccines. These could not be more timely.

Our nation’s vulnerability to bioterror, the flu, SARS, and Avian flu is becoming very obvious. If we had a whole new bunch of vaccines to produce, there is
no surplus biologics manufacturing capacity to produce them. Companies seeing that there is no place to manufacture a new biologic are not likely to start the research to develop one – a classic Catch 22 situation.

All of the incentives Senator Hatch and I have proposed – procurement, tax, intellectual property, and liability – are relevant here.
Now after all that water-carrying, Big Pharma is saying maybe it isn't so partched after all. The UK's GlaxoSmithKline Plc has just announced it will invest $114 million (94 million Euros) to make more flu vaccine in its Dresden, Germany plant. In May GSK applied to the FDA for approval to sell its Fluarix influenza vaccine in the US. Fluarix is already licensed in 102 countries, but GSK didn't apply in the US "because the market was too crowded." (Reuters)

So I guess the Senator from the pharmaceutical industry sort of got the incentive stuff wrong. Still, that's apparently no reason we can't give the store away anyway, right Joe?