Saturday, April 09, 2005

Reason #1: Why I Don’t Miss CT

After the ghost of the dead king appears, remember when an officer in the palace guard says, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” in Hamlet? I think something is rotten in the state of Congress’s relations with the Pharmaceutical lobby.

Sarah Lueck, Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal, writes April 1, 2005,
'Bioshield' Drug-Patent Plan Draws Fire: Generics Makers Fight Extending Exclusivity Protection to Areas Outside Biodefense
In case you don’t want to buy a subscription to WSJ in order to read this article, you can read about Senate bill S.3 here where Barbara Loe Fisher of the National Vaccine Information Center describes the issue and the conflicts.

The Wall Street Journal article depicts a proponent behind the bill:

“The most contentious idea, called wild-card exclusivity, is being pushed by Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut Democrat. Under his plan, a drug maker that successfully develops a product to prevent or treat a bioterrorism illness or emerging infectious disease could get six months to two years of additional patent life for any product it chooses. As supporters explain it, if Pfizer Inc., for example, invented an effective new antibiotic or joined forces with a smaller biotechnology company to produce a new treatment for botulism, it could get more time to sell blockbuster drugs such as Viagra or cholesterol-lowering Lipitor without competition from cheaper generic rivals. Blockbuster drugs, which usually have numerous patents, can generate billions of dollars a year in sales.”

I wonder how this will help me. If a drug like Lipitor is allowed to remain under the patent protection, and not be available as a generic, if I were prescribed this drug I would have to spend around $100 per month instead of $10 co-pay under my medical insurance plan. Since Lipitor isn’t an anti-terrorist drug (it’s used to lower cholesterol), and the drug that Lipitor’s manufacturer, Pfizer, would have to make in order to gain this patent extension doesn’t have to be anti-nerve gas or some such “real” anti-terrorist thing, just new, this proposed legislation only serves to cost me money and keep the pharmaceutical companies from losing their patent rights on “blockbuster” money-making cash-cow drugs.

So if something is indeed “rotten,” my question is, what’s Senator Lieberman’s incentive to promote this rot?

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