Drugmakers’ victories in Washington could keep health costs high, trade office warns
The pharmaceutical industry spent $110 million in just the first half of 2009 in its efforts to influence health care reform, part of a booming lobbying effort that now has 2.3 drug lobbyists on Capitol Hill for every member of Congress, a new investigative report reveals.
Writing in Time magazine, Karen Tumulty and Michael Scherer report that Big Pharma’s efforts to protect their interests in health care reform amounts to an expenditure of $609,000 per day, and “they’re getting a pretty good return on their investment,” Tumulty told CNN’s John King on Thursday.
“It’s not just the lobbyists,” Tumulty said. “The money goes into a lot of other things. It finances a lot of so-called research, expert reports, consultant reports. A lot of do-good organizations are springing up with names that sound like quite beneficial organizations, but you look at them and it turns out the whole thing is being run by drug companies.”
As evidence of drugmakers’ clout on the Hill, Tumulty pointed to a major victory for the group earlier this summer, when the House and Senate voted to extend patent protection of biotechnology drugs — biologics, as they are known — by an additional 12 years.
The move to grant them extra protection from generic drug makers was opposed by the Federal Trade Commission, which argued that extending patent protection could stifle innovation and keep drug costs high.
“These bio-tech drugs — they’re miracle drugs — are probably going to be something like half of all new drugs being approved,” Tumulty said. “And the big fight right now is whether there will ever be a generic equivalent for these drugs that cost $20,000, $40,000 or even $200,000 per year to administer.”
Tumulty noted that it’s practically impossible to trace all the money being spent in Washington to influence health care reform, because “it’s going not only into the campaign coffers of elected officials and salaries of lobbyists, but also into organizations that are essentially front groups for these interests, and into scientific-sounding consultant reports.”
Tumulty warned that the American public could be the “losers” in all of this.
“On some of these key questions you’ve got to say the lobbyists are getting pretty much everything they’re asking for,” she told CNN’s John Roberts. “And considering how important it is to bring down health care costs in the long run, I think the rest of us are the losers.”
This video is from CNN’s American Morning, broadcast Oct. 22, 2009.
Britain’s Prince Andrew denies meeting sex accuser
Britain's Prince Andrew has said he does not remember meeting Virginia Roberts, one of disgraced US financier Jeffrey Epstein's alleged victims, who says she was forced to have sex with the royal.
But Andrew admits in an interview with the BBC due to be broadcast on Saturday that his decision to remain friends with Epstein after he was convicted of soliciting prostitution from a minor in 2008 was a serious error of judgement.
"I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever," Andrew told BBC interviewer Emily Maitlis, according to extracts from "Prince Andrew and the Epstein Scandal" released ahead of the program's broadcast.
Administration blaming Lt Col Vindman for White House lying to America about the first Ukraine call
On Friday, President Donald Trump released the rough transcript of his first phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Upon the release, many White House watchers noticed that the transcript was nothing like the summary of the call that the administration released on the day the two leaders talked.
The exchange released by the WH does not appear to be an exact transcript as it does not include talk of U.S. support of Ukrainian sovereignty and a desire to root out corruption there, two things specifically highlighted in the White House read out of the call released in April.
Massive anti-coup protests explode across Bolivia ‘against the many violations to Democracy’
"Do you think we are ignorant?"
Chanting "resign now" to Bolivia's interim, self-declared president Jeanine Añez, protesters across the Latin American country on Friday made their displeasure with the overthrow of the government by right-wing Christian extremists last Sunday known.
Thousands of demonstrators marched through the cities of La Paz and El Alto. Friday's protests follow days of unrest as the Bolivian people rejected Sunday's coup, which forced democratically-elected President Evo Morales to resign and flee the country.