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05.27 Teen cancer death rate causes alarm [it's from pollution, of course]

05.27 The west country cheddar maker powered by solar and cow dung

05.27 ExxonMobil is in its climate change bunker and won’t let reality in

05.26 Pollution From Canadian Oil Sands Vapor Is Substantial, Study Finds

05.26 Australia's dirtiest power station may be closed or sold, French owner says

05.26 FDA to announce whether it will approve implant for opioid addicts

05.25 Interview: CO2 'Air Capture' Could Be Key to Slowing Global Warming [Algae?]

05.25 Up against strict laws, Texas women learn do-it-yourself abortions [Is this what "conservatives" want?]

05.25 World War III will be fought over water

05.25 Coastal flooding: a sign of the damage our economy is wreaking on our fragile environment

05.25 My father warned Exxon about climate change in the 1970s. They didn't listen

05.25 How cracking down on America's painkiller capital led to a heroin crisis [As seen in Portugal and elsewhere, physicians prescribing safer, dosage-controlled drugs to addicts would save lives and suppress illegal drug cartels]

05.24 World could warm by massive 10C if all fossil fuels are burned

05.24 Single-payer health care is more popular than ever. Here are 10 questions for its future.

05.24 Largest U.S. Water Reservoir Shrinks to Record Low Amid Major Drought

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05.27 Journalists blast NY Times for pro-Israel bias and “grotesque” distortion of illegal occupation of Palestine

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05.27 Sanders to Trump: Let's Debate in 'Biggest Stadium Possible'

05.27 Sanders’ DNC platform team pushes for Palestinian rights, blasts Israeli war crimes

05.26 The Hourly Wage Needed to Rent a 2-Bedroom Apartment Is Rising

05.26 They don’t want Trump or Hillary: Half of voters would consider a third-party presidential candidate

05.26 Elizabeth Warren labels Trump 'money-grubber' who rooted for financial crash [videos]

05.26 “Come with me if you want to live”: Morning Joe panel gets weird, claims white men trust Trump to protect them from robots [governments, as yet, have no plan, policy or response to rapid robotic automation that's certain to replace millions of workers]

05.26 State Department audit finds Hillary Clinton broke agency rules with private email server

05.25 Here’s the Full List of Companies & Organizations That Paid Hillary Clinton From 2013-2015

05.25 Protests at Donald Trump rally overshadow Washington primary win [1:09 video]

05.24 Disposable Americans: The Numbers are Growing

05.24 Hillary Clinton’s Energy Initiative Pressed Countries to Embrace Fracking, New Emails Reveal

05.24 Sanders names Cornel West, Keith Ellison to DNC platform committee

05.24 'I'm not with her': why women are weary of Hillary Clinton

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05.23 #AirBnBWhileBlack and the Legacy of Brown vs. Board

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05.23 Attacking Doctors in Conflict Zones is a War Crime. So Why is No One Prosecuted For It?

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05.27 Revealed: 9% rise in London properties owned by offshore firms

05.27 Bernie Sanders Easily Wins the Policy Debate

05.26 Average CEO Raise Last Year Amounted to 10x What Most Workers Make in Total

05.25 The Pentagon’s War on Accountability

05.24 IMF tells EU it must give Greece unconditional debt relief

05.23 Panama Papers Confirm Miami a Disneyland for Fraud

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05.27 Story of cities #future: what will our growing megacities really look like?

05.27 Story of cities #50: the reclaimed stream bringing life to the heart of Seoul

05.27 Riot police crack down on Paris protests against labour reforms

05.26 Is this the world’s most radical mayor?

05.26 Operation Condor conspiracy faces day of judgment in Argentina court

05.26 Brazil senate head recorded proposing to weaken bribes investigation

05.26 'There are two governments': Mexican elections held in shadow of the cartels

05.26 Foxconn replaces 60,000 humans with robots in China

05.25 Rousseff's impeachment may be about stopping a massive corruption investigation

05.25 Politicians condemn 60% foreign ownership of London skyscraper [the super-rich are pandered to while workers are demonstrably ignored]

05.25 Rockefeller reaches 100 resilient cities target, but 'work is only just beginning'

05.25 Viet Con

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  Big Pharma Wins Big in Health Care Reform

COMMENTARY:

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 JamesRidgeway.net 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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