The deal that PhRMA made with the White House boils down to this---no drug reimportation from Canada, bars the government from negotiating drug prices, and allows pharmaceutical companies to keep extending their patents for biologics as was the case with the Eshoo amendment and the HELP amendment.
In the section on Big Pharma's concessions, "FOBs" refers to follow-on biological drugs. Democrats have pushed to make it easier to allow generic drug makers to produce cheaper versions of such drugs, an effort Big Pharma has resisted. The Senate health committee bill gives drug makers 12 years of market exclusivity, five more than the White House proposed.
Senator Sherrod Brown and Senator Whitehouse are looking to round up votes on the floor for their amendment.
"I wasn't a party to any deal," said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), telling HuffPost that he is cobbling together support for amendments that would bust the Big Pharma deal by allowing the government to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices and by limiting the amount of time biotech companies can have patent-protections.
- slinkerwink's diary :: ::
The White House deal with PhRMA was defended rather enthusiastically by Senator Tom Carper:
And this is his statement below as transcribed from the video above:
I was not involved in negotiations with PhRMA but I believe that the administration was, obviously PhRMA was, and I presume this committee was involved in some way in those negotiations.
And what PhRMA agreed to do through those negotiations is to pay about
80 billion dollars over 10 years to help fill up half the donut hole. That's my understanding. And they are prepared to go forward and to honor that commitment. As I understand it, the commitment from our colleague Senator Nelson would basically double what was negotiated with PhRMA.
And whether you like PhRMA or not — remember I talked earlier today in our opening statements, I talked about four core values, and one of those is the golden rule, treat other people the way I want to be treated?
I'll tell you — if someone negotiated a deal with me and I agreed to put up say, 80 dollars or 80 million dollars or 80 billion dollars and then you came back and said to me a couple of weeks later — no no, I know you agreed to do 80 billion and I know you were willing to help support through an advertising campaign this particular — not even this particular bill, just the idea of generic health care reform? No, we're going to double — we're going to double what you agreed in those negotiations to do. That's not the way — that's not what I consider treating people the way I'd want to be treated.
That just doesn't seem right to me.
Senator Carper had opposed the amendment by Senators Rockefeller and Nelson that mirrored an amendment in the House that Rep. Waxman did in the House to close the Medicare Part D doughnut hole by requiring drug manufactures to provide rebates for the overcharging of dual eligible Medicare and Medicaid recipients. After Senator Carper spoke up, the amendment failed and didn't get the votes needed to pass. And here's more from Ryan Grim:
The deal has indeed had an unusual history. It was announced in June, but details were withheld. When those details were reported over the summer, the parties to the deal said the deal that was outlined in a memo was not, in fact, the deal. Later, the deal was publicly debated and defended during the finance committee mark up. Andthe bill that Baucus unveiled contained the details of the deal that the parties had previously said had not been struck.
Drug makers, in their deal with Baucus and the White House, have offered to contribute $80 billion over ten years to the reform effort and $150 million to buy ads backing health care reform and Democratic candidates. Much of the contributions come in discounts to seniors for name-brand drugs. But drug makers set those prices to begin with. PhRMA argues that the drug industry is being squeezed dry and any more than $80 billion will cost jobs and potentially cost its support, PhRMA insists.
The House bill contains more in cuts from the pharmaceutical industry, as reported by Ezra Klein below:
Drug makers are also getting shellacked. They're looking at between $125 billion and $150 billion in cuts - almost twice the $80 billion they agreed to under the White House deal.
We don't know if the $125 billion and $150 billion in cuts in the House bill will survive the conference process. It's likely not going to do so, given indication from Senators like Schumer who are pressing against the Brown and Whitehouse amendment that addresses this issue on the Senate floor. Schumer defended the PhRMA deal by saying that it would have to remain in the entire bill, so the amendment by Senators Brown and Whitehouse likely wouldn't succeed:
"To me, $106 billion is very tempting," Schumer said, but added that the PhRMA deal has to be considered in the context of the entire package. If breaking the deal costs some Democratic support, Reid could find himself short of the needed votes.
"That's the hard thing. You can't look at any one piece alone. It's how they all interact with one another. So, that's obviously something I'd like to see there, but there are other considerations, not only on that, but on other issues as well," he said. "This has got to be one piece, and Harry Reid is the best weaver of legislative priorities that I've seen."
Some say that the deal with PhRMA was necessary in order to get the health insurance reform bill through, but in doing so, we signed away our right to have the government negotiate on our behalf for drug prices, and drug re-importation from Canada. That would've provided more savings for millions of sick and ill Americans. I remember what President Obama said during the campaign, and what was in his campaign health care plan:
Lower prescription drug costs. The second-fastest growing type of health expenses is prescription drugs. Pharmaceutical companies are selling the exact same drugs in Europe and Canada but charging Americans more than double the price. Obama will allow Americans to buy their medicines from other developed countries if the drugs are safe and prices are lower outside the U.S. Obama will also repeal the ban that prevents the government from negotiating with drug companies, which could result in savings as high as $30 billion. Finally, Obama will work to increase the use of generic drugs in Medicare, Medicaid, and FEHBP and prohibit big name drug companies from keeping generics out of markets.
And the ad that he ran against Senator Clinton during the campaign, calling her out on the cost of support for lobbyists from the drug and insurance industry:
Here we are now, with a massive giveaway to PhRMA by allowing them to give us $80 billion dollars in savings, and granting them the right to to hold their biologics patents for 12 years before allowing them into the market as generics for Americans to access:
But thanks to Representatives Anna Eshoo and Joe Barton, there will be no generic versions of these drugs. At least not for 12 years, if the House health care bill announced today passes. And because of an "evergreening" clause that grants drug companies a continued monopoly if they make slight changes to the drug (like creating a once-a-day dose where the original product was three times per day), they will never become generics. Instead of the Waxman-Deal amendment that granted much more reasonable terms to biologic patent holders, Speaker Pelosi chose the Eshoo-Barton amendment. And we could all be paying for that choice for the rest of our lives.
The Eshoo amendment is one that will bring a high cost to the lives of patients like those with breast cancer. It's a bad provision that should be addressed, and one we need to CALL our lawmakers about today. We all should be very aware about the high costs to the deal made with PhRMA, and ask ourselves---are we okay with this deal?
If you're not okay with this deal, then please CALL your lawmaker in the House to ask them to address this issue in the manager's amendment by getting the Waxman-Deal amendment that granted much more reasonable terms to biologic patent holders in there. You can start by calling Rep. Waxman's office and asking him to address the issue of biologics' having 12 year exclusivity and the ever-greening proposal in the manager's amendment to the House bill.
CALL Rep. Waxman at (202) 225-3976
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