Tuesday, December 20, 2005

How Do I Get a Job Like That?

Big pharma CEOs are the highest paid CEOs.

How hard is this for you to grasp—giant pharmaceutical companies make billions in revenue and profits by selling patent-protected drugs to millions of Americans and millions more overseas. If one of these drugs turns out to be harmful--even after some testing prior to hitting the market that shows the drug will do what it is supposed to without harmful side-effects—then the drug manufacturer can be liable in court claims by the consumer, just like any other item sold, from cars to microwave ovens to childrens’ clothing.

One of the most powerful elected representatives in the nation—elected to uphold the public trust and represent its interest in an oath of office taken upon being elected—Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, a former physician, has added a provision to a military spending bill, releasing from any sort of legal liability, a drug maker whose product causes bodily harm to an individual, under certain circumstances.

Forget about the product being a drug—wouldn’t a car manufacturer be thrilled to know that if the car they made was somehow defective and blew up under certain conditions, that the car-maker was protected from being sued for negligence or otherwise?

Do you think the huge financial resources of the pharmaceutical lobby in Washington, D.C. would be able to get the appropriate amount of money into the pockets of powerful legislators like Bill Frist so that he would take that liability ball and run with it in order to pay back his benefactors? Are we clear on this?

Frist is sleazing into this appropriations bill an item that gives drug makers freedom from lability while they make billions of dollars on their products:

Companies making vaccines to protect against biological agents or pandemic viruses would be shielded from lawsuits, even if they are negligent or reckless, under a provision inserted into a military spending bill by Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the majority leader…

…But critics, like Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, said the language was more far-reaching than Mr. Frist had described.

"The Republican leadership in Congress cut a back room deal to give a massive Christmas bonus to the drug companies," Mr. Kennedy said in a statement…

…The provision would provide immunity from lawsuits to any company that made "countermeasures" - broadly defined as drugs, vaccines or medical devices - to protect Americans against pandemics, epidemics or biological attacks. It would give the secretary of health and human services authority to determine what constituted a pandemic or an epidemic. Critics said that authority, broadly construed, could apply to heart drugs or diabetes, for example, should the secretary declare heart disease or diabetes an epidemic.-- Legal Shield for Vaccine Makers Is Inserted Into Military Bill, NY Times, 12/19/05

Frist is not the enemy, or the problem—our apathy and ignorance is. Nothing is new about this escapade and charade. Just let’s not be asleep while we’re being fucked.

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