Friday, April 21, 2006

Prostitutes, drug pushers and Congress

Lots of bad news these days, but some people are pretty happy.
After years of pumping millions of dollars into election campaigns, the pharmaceutical industry is reaping the benefits of a vastly improved political climate on Capitol Hill.

The increases in donations have moderated since the last decade as the industry has won passage of long-cherished legislative objectives or fended off challenges that it deemed a threat to its way of doing business.

In the last year, drug companies have won protection from lawsuits involving production of a pandemic flu vaccine. They have been invited to join President Bush in mapping a government strategy to fight a pandemic and have been sought out to assist in producing vaccines against flu and bioterrorism.

At the same time, legislative measures aimed at the industry - notably, bills that would permit importing cheaper prescription drugs from abroad - appear stalled, with little likelihood they will come up soon. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
So bird flu has ben a mixed blessing. A deadly threat to most of us, responsible for much wheel spinning "preparation" on the part of the feds, but a boon to Big Pharma. I'm so glad someone gets something out of it. And now that they've gotten it, they aren't spending as much dough in the Congressional Whorehouse. The reasoning, as given by former Republican CongressThing Billy Tauzin, is breathtakingly blatant:
Billy Tauzin, president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the drugmakers' lobbying arm, said one reason for the decline [in contributions] was passage of the Medicare prescription-drug plan in 2003, an important legislative hurdle.

The measure was a major victory for the industry, not only because it committed the government to spending an average of $67 billion a year over 10 years on their products but also because proposals requiring the government to negotiate for the lowest price were defeated. Drugmakers feared that provision would have cut deeply into profits and opened the door to price controls on other drug spending.
Tauzin helped write the prescription drug plan and then left Congress to become Big Pharma's chief pimp.

But don't despair if you are one of the Congressional prostitutes. If the Democrats win one of the houses of Congress in 2006 the money spigot for Republicans (and some Democrats like Joe Lieberman -- should be win his primary) will open again as the atmosphere becomes less congenial to the drug pushers.

Prostitution never goes out of business as long as there are addicted johns who live to screw somebody.