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Health Care & Environment

03.19 Could it be your gut keeping you awake at night?

03.19 Water shortages could affect 5bn people by 2050, UN report warns

03.17 China's 'war against pollution' shows promising results, study finds [U.S. doesn't care]

03.17 China's 'war against pollution' shows promising results, study finds

03.17 In Latest 'Alarming' Attack on Science, Pruitt Reportedly Moving to Restrict Use of Research in EPA Policy [“Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]

03.17 Global energy giants forced to adapt to rise of renewables [the Middle-East's wars may be stupid given looming drop in oil and gas prices]

03.16 The Guardian view on air pollution: moral pusillanimity, political ineptitude

03.16 Pollutionwatch: Cold snap worsens particle load of air

03.16 Energy sector must use new tech to ensure the vulnerable aren't left behind

03.16 Pollution, illness, threats and murder: is this Amazon factory the link?

03.16 It's 50 years since climate change was first seen. Now time is running out

03.15 WHO launches health review after microplastics found in 90% of bottled water [health risks are being assessed]

03.14 World’s great forests could lose half of all wildlife as planet warms – report [ho-hum...]

03.14 Sky-high prices of everything make US healthcare the world's most expensive [legal corruption of government Makes America Less Great Again, and more of a mafia-state]

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03.17 The corporate media ignores the rise of oligarchy. The rest of us shouldn't

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US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

03.19 White House officials made to sign non-disclosure agreements, report says

03.19 Trump opioids plan includes death penalty for drug dealers [A very Duterte idea...]

03.19 Jared Kushner's company routinely filed false New York City paperwork [business without morals is more profitable, which makes them smile]

03.18 Donald Trump and the Craven Firing of Andrew McCabe

03.18 Mueller Wants Trump’s Business Records. What’s the Russia Connection? [real estate deals with money laundering for higher profits...]

03.18 Paul Ryan sold shares on same day as private briefing of banking crisis [offense in 2008 became a story in 2012, which now in 2018 is hot news...]

03.18 The Cambridge Analytica Files: ‘I made Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare tool’: meet the data war whistleblower

03.17 Russia investigation may turn to Ivanka Trump as Mueller examines empire

03.17 Conditioning Through Contempt: They Are Calling Us Their Base to Demean Us

03.17 Andrew McCabe, ex-FBI deputy and Trump target, fired days before retiring

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03.19 No CEO should earn 1,000 times more than a regular employee

03.18 The War on the Post Office

03.17 The Radical Reformist

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03.19 Anna Campbell’s death in Syria was futile, but her passion was admirable

03.19 No one can pretend Facebook is just harmless fun any more

03.18 Marielle Franco: Brazil’s favelas mourn the death of a champion

03.17 Sergei Skripal: Russia expels 23 British diplomats as row deepens

03.17 Turkey claims to have encircled Afrin, besieging up to 200,000 [Kurds are the new Armenians. Is ethnic purity—that DNA testing cannot discern—so important that Turkey and Syria must kill minority ethnic populations?]

03.16 The long read: Vladimir Putin’s politics of eternity

03.16 Australian man who raped Indian orphans released immediately after conviction

03.15 Finland is the happiest country in the world, says UN report

03.15 Busting the Myth of ‘Welfare Makes People Lazy’ [Are all conservative economic theories based on anecdotal gossip of ill-informed, often-biased people? There does seem to be a pattern...]

03.15 Donald Trump admits making up 'facts' in trade meeting with Justin Trudeau [“Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]

03.15 Can we fix it? The repair cafes waging war on throwaway culture

03.15 Spy poisoning: allies back UK and blast Russia at UN security council [videos]

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  Big Pharma Wins Big in Health Care Reform


Big Pharma Wins Big in Health Care Reform

by James Ridgeway
First published in his blog Unsilent Generation yesterday, 22 March 2010
To a large extent, the “debate” over health care was a show debate, an extended round of Washington smoke and mirrors. The administration early on cut its deal with Big Pharma, and pretty much stuck to it throughout the process.

The Republicans look a sour lot this morning, but the pharmaceutical industry, which helps foot the campaign bills of a sizeable chunk of members of both parties, is delighted with the legislation, and with its Democratic friends in the White House and on the Hill.

Members of Congress in both parties generally have lined up behind the insurance and pharmaceutical industries from the get go. So it should come as no surprise that the Democrats, who long ago gave up any pretence of opposing corporate power, found a way to accomodate the pharmaceutical companies on the way to its tepid reform. To a large extent, the “debate” over health care was a show debate, an extended round of Washington smoke and mirrors. The administration early on cut its deal with Big Pharma, and pretty much stuck to it throughout the process.

In fact, the Dems actually made the drugsters look good, celebrating the industry’s generous “concessions” and “discounts” while ensuring that no real threat to Big Pharma’s profits would make their way into the final bill.

The industry’s main goal from the very beginning has been to fend off any government power to negotiate or seriously regulate drug prices–and this they did.

Big Pharma’s second big win was to prevent any measure that would have opened the way for American consumers to buy less expensive drugs abroad, especially from Canada.

At the same time, the supposed give-backs by the drug industry are projected to more than pay for themselves. The much-lauded discounts on brand name drugs for seniors in the Medicare prescription drug program, for example, are good for Big Pharma because they discourage oldsters from switching to generics.

And more insured people simply mean more money coming into the coffers, for Big Pharma as well as for the insurance industry.

Confirmation of the industry analysis came early in the day from the stock market, where drug stocks initially remained level; there certainly was no rush to dump shares, which is what would be expected if the bill actually represented any threat to profits. And by 1 p, EST, CNN Money was reporting a rally in health care stocks.

“I was unable to find anything in there that would cause me to have anxiety if I were a shareholder in a pharmaceutical company,” Ira Loss, a senior health-care analyst at the research firm Washington Analysis, told Dow Jones. According to the ticker story:

Billy Tauzin, who led the industry’s negotiations on health care with lawmakers, said overall drug makers fare well. “While we’re not totally happy,” Tauzin began, “we generally feel like it tracks with our principles.”

Sanofi-Aventis SA (SNY) Chief Executive Christopher Viehbacher said in an interview that the impact of the legislation will be neutral to slightly negative “but better for the industry than if healthcare reform didn’t pass.”

Tauzin, head of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America or PhRMA, and Viehbacher said getting protection for brand-name biologics is among the important provisions for the industry. Drug makers pushed hard to get 12 years of exclusive market protection while the White House and some lawmakers wanted to lower the protection to seven years.

Despite fees and rebates imposed by the legislation, “analysts say drug makers will end up recouping those costs through new customers: The bill would provide insurance coverage to an additional 32 million Americans.” The Dow Jones story continues:

Chalk up another good round for Pharma and Biotech in health care reform,” began a note to clients Friday from Concept Capital, a research firm.Ken Tsuboi, co-manager of the Allianz RCM Wellness Fund, sees the impact of bill, and its $90 billion in concessions over 10 years, as relatively minor in an industry that has annual global sales of about $750 billion, with about $300 billion in the U.S., and margins close to 30%.”I think that it is actually a pretty good deal for Pharma,” Tsuboi said.

The GOP, which purports to be the party of big business, ought to be applauding at least these portions of the health care reform—and perhaps when the cameras go away, some of them will quit bitching and count their blessings. As for the obnoxious Tea Party gang, if they start threatening the real power in this country, which is vested in corporations, they may well find themselves whipped and isolated.

Born in 1936, James Ridgeway has been reporting on politics for more than 45 years. He is currently Senior Washington Correspondent for Mother Jones, and recently wrote a blog on the 2008 presidential election for the Guardian online. He previously served as Washington Correspondent for the Village Voice; wrote for Ramparts and The New Republic; and founded and edited two independent newsletters, Hard Times and The Elements.

Ridgeway is the author of 16 books, including The Five Unanswered Questions About 9/11, It’s All for Sale: The Control of Global Resources, and Blood in the Face: The Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, Nazi Skinheads, and the Rise of a New White Culture. He co-directed a companion film to Blood in the Face and a second documentary film, Feed, and has co-produced web videos for GuardianFilms.

Additional information and samples of James Ridgeway’s work can be found at and at his newest web site, Solitary Watch.

This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.

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This story was published on March 23, 2010.

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