Monday, January 23, 2017

10.4 - Outrage of the Week: Dems choose Big Pharma over consumers

Outrage of the Week: Dems choose Big Pharma over consumers

Now for our other regular feature, the Outrage of the Week.

Okay. So senators Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar introduced an amendment that would have allowed pharmacists to import drugs from Canada. Because the Canadian government has the legal power to negotiate with drug companies on the cost of drugs, medications are virtually always if not across the board significantly cheaper up north. What's more, many of the medications in question are made in the US and exported to Canada - and despite being exported and re-imported, they would still be much cheaper.

The amendment, embracing an idea supported by 72% of the American public, attracted the support of a dozen GOPpers and would have passed - except that 13 Dimcrats voted no, killing it and leaving us still at the mercy of Big Pharma.

Why? Well, the excuse given by recent liberal celebrity Sen. Cory Booker was that the amendment "didn't meet the test" of ensuring that "foreign drugs" meet "American safety standards."

Except that Canadian standards and procedures for approving drugs are similar to those in the US and that no one, not even Cory Booker, has been able to point to any Canadian drug scandals that would question their safety. And again, a lot of them are actually made here.

Sen. Cory Booker
But the real proof that "consumer protections" are not the issue here is found in the fact that all 13 of those bozos, including Booker, voted to pass the so-called 21st Century Cures Act, one of those deals where a thin layer of good stuff is just the colored wrapping and pretty bow around the real present: a box load of benefits to Big Pharma that among other giveaways to the medical industry with the emphasis on industry would significantly reduce the safety standards that now exist, saving the drug corporations millions and making an utter mockery of the claims of those such as Booker.

Under the bill, signed into law by The Big O on January 13, corporations will be able to get approval for new uses for existing drugs without clinical trials, instead relying on so-called "real world evidence," which includes observations, safety and side-effect claims, and other data not subject to rigorous analysis. In other words, anecdotes.

It also allows drug makers to promote off-label uses of their drugs to insurance companies, vastly expanding the markets for these drugs while bypassing the FDA entirely.

If protecting patient safety was really all that important to these Dems that even drugs from another major industrialized nation are to be regarded with dark suspicion through narrowed eyes, they could have demanded the removal of these provisions as a price for their support of the bill. But they didn't. They said and did nothing.

So if patient safety is not the reason for voting against the Sanders-Klobuchar amendment, what is?

Well, maybe it's just a coincidence that of the top 10 recipients of campaign contributions from pharmaceutical manufacturers, five of who are Dems, nine voted against the amendment. Maybe, too, it's just a coincidence that pharmaceutical and medical device companies spent nearly $200 million lobbying for the bill.

Or, bluntly, maybe it's not.

Maybe it's another indication of whose interests are really central to the members of Congress. Maybe it's another indication that the interests of the vast, vast majority of the people of the nation are addressed only to the extent they do not impact the interests of the insiders. Maybe it's another indication of how we simply cannot trust the Democrats - I won't even bother with the GOPpers - we cannot trust, we cannot rely on, the Democrats to act to the benefit of the needy over the needless, the poor over the powerful, except as we make them do it.

Yes, individual Dems can be good on individual occasions on individual issues. Hell, it can even be true of GOPpers; remember a dozen of them voted right on the amendment to import drugs from Canada. And yes we can and should work with Congressional Dems where we can.

But we can't rely on them. We cannot, must not, expect them to lead. We have to make sure that they are followers of our campaigns, not that we are followers of theirs.

So maybe what all this is, at the end of the day, is another indication that ultimately we are on our own. Maybe it's another outrage.

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