While reasonable people debate the pros and cons of the current health insurance reform bills, little is being said about one particularly insidious amendment. For the sake of clarity, let’s call it “Big Pharma’s Biological Bonanza”. The latest health insurance reform bill includes an amendment to extend the pharmaceutical industry’s monopoly on expensive biologic drugs to twelve years or longer, harming victims of cancer, HIV, rheumatoid arthritis and rare diseases who cannot afford to pay $50,000 to $300,0000 for prescriptions or whose insurance companies place a ceiling on drug coverage.
Though Congressman Waxman (D-Santa Monica/West LA) had introduced an amendment for a five-year fast track of generic biologic drugs, a majority in his committee decided to kill the Waxman amendment and protect the profits of big pharmaceuticals by enacting a twelve-year exclusivity on the use of Big Pharma’s clinical trial data. Under this amendment’s ambiguous “ever-greening” clause, drug companies could continue their monopoly indefinitely by changing a dosage instruction, thus thwarting the sale and marketing of biosimilars or less expensive generics.
There is no excuse for putting drug company profits before patient needs. Lowering regulatory obstacles to allow for more generics not only saves patients’ lives, but also billions of dollars in taxpayer money spent on prescription drugs purchased under Medicare and Medicaid. Why should Big Pharma have a monopoly on medical research often subsidized by the taxpayers? We are the ones who often pay for the clinical trial research, only to pay for it again when the poor or the elderly buy medication.
Something is wrong with this picture.
We need representatives who will represent the people, not big corporations with lobbyists crawling all over Capitol Hill.