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Under The Influence
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of CBS News


CBS News, April 2, 2007
Posted: April 4th, 2007
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/03/29/60minutes/main2625...

If you have ever wondered why the cost of prescription drugs in the United States are the highest in the world or why it's illegal to import cheaper drugs from Canada or Mexico, you need look no further than the pharmaceutical lobby and its influence in Washington, D.C. Congressmen are outnumbered two to one by lobbyists for an industry that spends roughly a $100 million a year in campaign contributions and lobbying expenses to protect its profits. One reason [drug company] profits have exceeded Wall Street expectations is the Medicare prescription drug bill ... passed three-and-a-half years ago. The unorthodox roll call on one of the most expensive bills ever placed before the House of Representatives began in the middle of the night. The only witnesses were congressional staffers, hundreds of lobbyists, and U.S. Representatives like Dan Burton, R-Ind., and Walter Jones, R-N.C. "The pharmaceutical lobbyists wrote the bill," says Jones. Why did the vote finally take place at 3 a.m.? "They didn't want on national television in primetime," according to Burton. "I've been in politics for 22 years," says Jones, "and it was the ugliest night I have ever seen." Jones says the arm-twisting was horrible. It certainly wasn't ugly for the drug lobby which ... has been a source of lucrative employment opportunities for congressmen when they leave office. In all, at least 15 congressional staffers, congressmen and federal officials left to go to work for the pharmaceutical industry, whose profits were increased by several billion dollars. "They have unlimited resources," Burton says. "And when they push real hard to get something accomplished in the Congress of the United States, they can get it done."

Note: This article also states that the Medicare prescription bill "was the largest entitlement program in more than 40 years, and the debate broke down along party lines." Usually Republicans are against entitlement programs while Democrats support them. Why was it the opposite in this case? Could it be that big industry made huge profits from the passage of this bill? For lots more, click here.


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