Friday, July 24, 2009

More on Industry Lobbying and Health Reform

Andrea Seabrook and Peter Overby of NPR did a nice job on drug industry lobbying of Congress as the health reform battle proceeds (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106899074&ft=1&f=1027). In some ways the story covered material I had previously posted about (http://brodyhooked.blogspot.com/2009/07/lobbying-sums-through-roof-as-health.html), based on AP coverage, but they managed to highlight some important features:

  • While PhRMA is by itself a big spender, the real issue is the combined spending of all the drug companies put together, plus their umbrella organization--$40 million over a 3 month period, which is huge.
  • The $40M bought them the services of 29 individual lobbyists and 45 lobbying firms. That means that many more people are lobbying Congress, on behalf of the drug industry alone, than there are Congresspersons serving on the committees that are working on health reform legislation.
  • Dr. Jerry Avorn of Harvard noted what you can expect to see--or, more accurately, not see-- as a result of how that money is spent. Issues simply disappear off the table and are never discussed again. As examples he cites: saving money by reimporting drugs from Canada, and by allowing the government to use its bulk purchasing power. Without any fanfare, those issues simply went away.

1 comment:

Jim Purdy said...

That NPR link, and your blog, are very interesting. Thanks for being a badly needed voice of reason.