Saturday, October 28, 2006

Big Pharma pays back the Republicans for Medicare Part D

The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday examined how pharmaceutical companies are "pouring millions of dollars" into congressional campaigns in close races, "giving some Republicans a financial edge."

According to the Journal, "with a Democratic victory increasing likely, few recent elections have been so critical" for pharmaceutical companies, in large part because Democrats have promised to revise the Medicare prescription drug benefit to "take away most of the advantages it handed to pharmaceutical companies."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said that Democrats, in the event that they take control of the House, within the first 100 hours will seek to revise the Medicare prescription drug benefit to allow the federal government to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies for discounts on medications.

In addition, Democrats have proposed "lifting a ban on the broad-scale reimporting of inexpensive drugs," and they might seek to "toughen the drug-approval process," the Journal reports. Democrats also have discussed "holding hearings into conflicts of interest among Republican now working" for the pharmaceutical industry, according to the Journal.

In response, pharmaceutical companies have contributed millions of dollars to Republicans in close congressional races and to those who have supported favorable policies.

As of early September, pharmaceutical industry political action committees had contributed about $8.7 million to congressional campaigns, compared with $7 million for all of 2002, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group.

Republicans have received 69% of the campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical industry this year.

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