“With a liberal supermajority in Washington increasingly possible,” the pharmaceutical industry is “trying to buy up protection in the hopes that Democrats will go easier on them,” a Wall Street Journal editorial states, adding, “Money follows power, and obviously the drugmakers believe they need to reposition themselves politically with the prospect of a Democratic Congress and [Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.)] in the White House.”
“Most notable” are television advertisements funded by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America that “salute” politicians who supported last year’s unsuccessful attempt to renew and expand SCHIP; many of the lawmakers targeted in the ads are up for re-election this year and all but three are Democrats, the editorial continues. In addition, while campaign contributions from the industry over the past six election cycles favored Republican candidates, now contributions to the two parties are about even, according to the editorial.
The Journal writes, “Big Pharma needs to ensure that government programs remain generous, and perhaps this explains the support for SCHIP expansion.” It adds, “The faster” the share of health care spending by government programs increases, “the faster drugmakers become giant government contractors with federal dollars filling their book of business.” However, “such short-term self-interest is a long-run threat” because Congress “will use its purchasing power, or sheer coercion, to force greater pricing conformity,” the Journal writes, adding, “These trends will only accelerate if Mr. Obama succeeds in enacting a government-financed public option like Medicare, open to everyone.” The editorial states, “The pharma lobby is only speeding up the likely arrival of federal price controls and formulary restrictions,” which is “a death sentence when pharmaceutical innovation already has a 10- to 20-year investment horizon” (Wall Street Journal, 10/29).
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