Friday, May 18, 2007

Senators Who Blocked Drug Reimportation Got Big Bucks from Big Pharma

A blurb in the "Friday Alert" from the Alliance of Retired Americans reads:

Senators who raised millions of dollars in campaign donations from pharmaceutical interests secured industry-friendly changes to the recent drug-safety bill, according to public records and interviews last week in USA Today. The bill, which passed 93-1, grants the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) broad new authority to monitor the safety of drugs after they are approved. However, the powers granted to the FDA in the bill's original version were pared back, and a measure that blocked an effort to allow drug importation passed, 49-40. The 49 senators who voted "Yes" received about $5 million in campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical industry since 2001, according to the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity. Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), one of the 49 who voted for the amendment, received over $500,000 in campaign contributions from drug executives and political action committees from 2001 - 2007, the most of any member of the Senate. "The big drug companies are at it again. Twice in the past few weeks, they've persuaded enough U.S. senators to stop two common-sense ways to lower prescription drug costs," said George J. Kourpias, President of the Alliance. "One prohibits Medicare from negotiating bulk discounts from drug manufacturers. Every consumer understands that you pay less when you buy in bulk. Act Two took place last week when many of these same senators then proceeded to effectively block seniors from purchasing safe drugs made in other countries."

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