We received a lot of emails asking our opinion on how last week's Drug Reform Bill could have become so watered down before it was sent to Congress. One of the answers: media and advertising lobbyists who convinced a few members of the House (built, inpart, with Madison Avenue, Network and Cable dollars) that media profits were more important than the health and safety of Americans.
These lobbyists realized they could lose a huge cash cow if pharmaceutical direct-to-consumer ads were ever put up to a Congressional vote. The word inside the beltway is that network and cable media created a very expensive targeted campaign suggesting that any restriction on direct-to-consumer advertising would be a violation of Big Pharma's first amendment rights. They were successful because any limits on direct-to-consumer disappeared from the bill before it went to the house.
Considering the first amendment rights abuses the citizens of this country have tolerated in the past few years, this ad campaign would be funny - if it weren't so sad.
The rights of Big Pharma and the FDA to deceive Americans were preserved (but a few bipartisan elected officials did manage to protect the wording on the bill that holds Big Pharma legally responsible for unsafe drug deaths, and Big Pharma will now be required to make ALL of the clinical trial and drug reaction data collected available to the public vs. the creative writing versions that get published in peer-reviewed journals.
The Drug Reform Bill still allows Big Pharma to maintain its monopoly on U.S. drug prices, which are higher than the prices they charge in other countries. And believe it or not, Big Pharma also gets to keep 25% of the FDA drug approval investigators on their consulting payrolls forever, and they have five years to get that number down to 25%.
Hardly a great victory - but new bills will be written and there will always be wantabe congressional members waiting for our votes.
Let's cast those votes wisely!