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Americans betrayed by Democratic senators with surprise amendment that protects Big Pharma

Tuesday, May 08, 2007 by: Mike Adams

Consumers expecting a miracle in the Senate that would end Big Pharma's monopoly and the FDA-enforced drug racket now operating in the United States will be sorely disappointed by yesterday's events. Fifteen Democratic senators (led by Sen. Edward Kennedy) abandoned consumer interests and joined a Republican-organized amendment that would protect Big Pharma's stranglehold over U.S. consumers by blocking the importation of prescription drugs from other countries.

The amendment in question is Senate Amendment 1010: "To protect the health and safety of the public," sponsored by Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) as an amendment to S.1082, the FDA reauthorization bill. The short text of the amendment requires that the Secretary of Health and Human Services block all importations of medications unless HHS can certify to Congress that such imports, "pose no additional risk to the public's health and safety." HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt, of course, has no interest in allowing free market conditions to threaten Big Pharma profits, thus the outcome of this amendment is obvious: It effectively overturns the Dorgan amendment that would have allowed Americans to save billions of dollars on prescription drugs by purchasing them from outside the United States under "free market" conditions.

Fifteen Democratic senators voted in favor of this amendment to defend Big Pharma's monopoly. Those senators are are: Max Baucus, Evan Bayh, Maria Cantwell, Thomas Carper, Edward Kennedy, John Kerry, Mary Landrieu, Frank Lautenberg, Blanche Lincoln, Robert Menéndez, Barbara Mikulski, Patty Murray, Ben Nelson, Jay Rockefeller, and Kenneth Salazar.

Thirty-three Republicans also supported the bill, which passed 49-40 (11 not voting). The Republican senators who voted for this amendment are: Lamar Alexander, Robert Bennett, Kit Bond, Jim Bunning, Richard Burr, Saxby Chambliss, Tom Coburn, Thad Cochran, Norm Coleman, Bob Corker, John Cornyn, Michael Crapo, Elizabeth Dole, Pete Domenici, Michael Enzi, Lindsey Graham, Judd Gregg, Chuck Hagel, Orrin Hatch, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Johnny Isakson, Jon Kyl, Richard Lugar, Mel Martinez, Mitch McConnell, Lisa Murkowski, Pat Roberts, Arlen Specter, Ted Stevens, John Sununu, Craig Thomas, George Voinovich, and John Warner. Big Pharma owns the U.S. Senate What's clear from this vote is that the majority of U.S. Senators do not represent the interests of the people. Backed by Big Pharma reelection campaign money, our lawmakers are acting to directly enforce a Big Pharma monopoly at the expense of the public. While the exact same medications are available from Canada, Europe and other countries for nearly half the price paid in the United States, U.S. consumers will continue to be forced to pay monopoly prices on their medications thanks to the great U.S. Senate sellout to Big Pharma.

It's not just consumers who are financially harmed by this drug price fixing scheme, either. Many corporations, city governments and states are headed to near-certain financial bankruptcy in large part due to monopoly pricing on prescription drugs. The near-collapse of the U.S. auto industry, for example, is largely due to health care costs. General Motors spends more on health insurance than it does on steel. The cost of doing business in the United States is now unbearable for many companies, and they're fleeing to other countries where health care costs are a fraction of U.S. costs.

Fifteen Democratic and thirty-three Republican senators believe U.S. citizens and businesses should be forced to pay the highest prices in the world for medications. Monopoly market conditions must be upheld. Keeping Americans diseased, uninformed and financially exploited is simply too profitable to walk away from. And corporate control over the U.S. Congress has never been stronger. It is no exaggeration to say that, with few exceptions, lawmakers no longer vote according to the interests of the citizens they claim to represent. Rather than casting votes that actually protect the public interest, lawmakers now spend their time determining which votes will get them reelected. That, of course, requires money, and corporations have lots of that -- especially when they run FDA-enforced monopoly price fixing schemes that clearly qualify as crimes under existing anti-trust legislation. Democracy is failing When the government of any nation forgets its people and, instead, focuses on defending and promoting the interests of powerful corporations, you no longer have a Democracy. Instead, you have a Plutocracy (see Wikipedia entry on Plutocracy), where the wealthy elite control the political process and use laws to further enrich themselves at the expense of the public.

It's an accurate description of what's happening in America today: The public is no longer represented by the Senate, the FDA, the USDA or the EPA. Instead, each of these governmental bodies (legislative for the Senate, executive for the other departments) is now operating in the interests of corporations. Campaign finance reform, of course, is impossible under such circumstances, since no corporate-controlled Senate will ever vote to cut itself off from corporate money. Thus, the only outcome of the situation is a further erosion of the integrity of U.S. legislative processes to the point where the public is impoverished, the nation is bankrupt, and the corporations run the government.

We are approaching that scenario now, and this latest vote by Senators to protect and even expand the Big Pharma monopoly over U.S. consumers is a glaring example of what happens when politicians sell out their constituents and kowtow to the influence of powerful corporations. Big Business and Big Government are now merging to become a unified system of financial exploitation of the people. The corporations financially rape the people, and the government keeps it legal.

Please note that senators of both major parties -- Democratic and Republican -- joined in this most recent mass betrayal of U.S. consumers. While Republicans certainly have stronger ties to drug companies, when push comes to shove Democrats will sell out their constituents just the same. The pocketbook of no citizen is safe when Congress is in session, and any voter who thinks one political party or another is going to come to the rescue and actually protect the interests of consumers is hopelessly naive. Action items: Here's what you can do now The battle over S.1082 is not yet over. All these recent debates are over amendments to the bill. The bill itself has not yet come to a floor vote (but it will soon). You still have a chance to help stop this bill!

If you're a U.S. citizen, call your Senator now (click here for a list of Senators' phone numbers) and tell them you oppose S.1082, the FDA reauthorization bill. If you have a chance, tell them you support the "Grassley amendments" and a free market for medications.

We can still have a huge impact in stopping this bill from becoming law. But it will require more action on your part to help protect American consumers from financial exploitation by the white-collar criminals running medicine today. We must do the job the U.S. Senate refuses to do. We must take action to protect ourselves from the monopolists, pharma con men and corrupt regulators who are trying to keep Americans trapped in a system of medicine that will ultimately destroy our collective health and bankrupt our nation. There is nothing these criminals will not attempt in order to protect their profits and territory, and right now they've pulled out all the stops to buy off senators and keep their medical monopoly intact.

Only a massive grassroots campaign of opposition can save us from a corporate-controlled plutocracy (or kleptocracy, if you will). Please join me in taking action now to stop S.1082 from becoming law. Saving America from itself is now up to the people, and the people alone. Lawmakers have rendered themselves incapable of making decisions that support any real future for our nation. The U.S. economy is now a carcass of cash (debt, actually), and lawmakers are simply divvying up the spoils to their Big Pharma buddies.

 


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