consultants are sandburs

Thursday, January 19, 2017

"Constituent concerns may have been whipped up by digital publications that framed the vote as 13 Democrats, including potential presidential candidate Cory Booker of New Jersey, coddling the industry, which has opposed importation for similar reasons."

Cory Booker, presidential? Even with the reference that way qualified as "potential," that's a joke.

Booker is like the Clintons, owned by Wall Street. That dog won't hunt out the skunks.

The headline is a quote from the middle of this item.

We have a governor in Minnesota now who in his past led buses to Canada on the issue. He also said tax the rich, and well, that failed to happen; but still, several cuts higher than Booker. And - more presidential.

Wanna make a bet?

My bet, Cory Booker is a Tom Perez Democrat, not a Keith Ellison one.

GOP lite. Intellectual kin to Bubba and Hillary.

HufPo, same underlying bill vote:

On Wednesday, Donald Trump said Americans were paying too much for prescription drugs because big pharmaceutical companies have too much power in Washington. “We have to … create new bidding procedures for the drug industry, because they’re getting away with murder,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday. “Pharma has a lot of lobbies, a lot of lobbyists and a lot of power.”

The murder spree continued into the final hour of Wednesday night, as 13 Senate Democrats proved Trump right by joining 39 Republicans to vote down a bill designed to lower prescription drug prices.

Pharmaceutical companies have the highest profit margins of any industry, and prescription drug prices are increasing by an average of over 18 percent per year. Well before Trump gave his press conference, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) had crafted a budget resolution designed to rein in medication prices by allowing cheaper, identical versions of prescription drugs to be imported from other countries, including Canada, where medicines are cheaper.

Twelve Republicans voted for the bill ― more than enough to ensure its passage. It failed by a vote of 46 to 52 because 13 Democrats opposed it.

There was a strong correlation between states where the drug industry is concentrated ― such as New Jersey, Washington, Pennsylvania and Delaware ― and Democratic opposition to Wednesday’s vote. A cynic might conclude that industry influence had something to do with the outcome. Not at all, the Democrats told HuffPost. They were only concerned with patient safety.

Seven of the Democrats who voted against the Sanders-Klobuchar plan ― Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Chris Coons of Delaware, Robert Casey of Pennsylvania, Tom Carper of Delaware, Maria Cantwell of Washington and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota ― all defended their opposition by arguing the bill didn’t address consumer protections for imported drugs. (The others didn’t immediately comment.)

“I support the importation of prescription drugs as a key part of a strategy to help control the skyrocketing cost of medications,” Booker said in a statement provided to HuffPost. “Any plan to allow the importation of prescription medications should also include consumer protections that ensure foreign drugs meet American safety standards. I opposed an amendment put forward last night that didn’t meet this test.

[...] In an odd coincidence, the rationale provided by Booker et al. was strikingly similar to the objections raised by the nation’s chief prescription drug lobby, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (commonly known as PhRMA).

[...] Massive profitability for prescription drugs in the U.S. is driven by a series of standards that allow companies to set prices free of market competition or government pressure. If lawmakers stop viewing that principle as inviolable, more significant reforms could follow.

The irony, of course, is that if voting down the amendment was a political decision, it wasn’t a smart one. “This is exactly why Democrats have lost for the last decade,” said RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, which endorsed Sanders during the presidential campaign, noting the 900-odd federal and state seats shed since Obama took office. “But they don’t care, they’re looking for their next jobs.”

For DeMoro, that the amendment would only have instructed committees to look into the issue at some point in the future made the cowardice that much more galling. “That’s what makes them so fundamentally shameless,” she said. “They’re basically letting their masters know they’re in line.”

The seven other Democrats voting against the bill were Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Michael Bennett of Colorado, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Patty Murray of Washington, Jon Tester of Montana and Mark Warner of Virginia.

[bolding added, links in original omitted]

Back to the first cited item:

In her Senate career, Murray has received $515,089 in campaign contributions from pharmaceutical manufacturers, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a watchdog group. Cantwell has received $74,750.

[...] Sanders, in a statement, said he was disappointed in the 13 Democratic senators who voted no.

"The Democratic Party has got to stand up to the greed of the pharmaceutical industry," Sanders said. "It is not acceptable that the five biggest drug companies made $50 billion in profits in 2015 while nearly 1 in 5 Americans cannot afford the medicine that their doctor prescribes."

A mom in tennis shoes Murray has called herself; one who likes big pharma, the love being returned tangibly. Cantwell, I will take her no vote better than Murray's. 5-figure, vs 6-figure, and a low 5-figure at that. Washington State does have lots of biotech, but leading edge differs from hosing us up, down, and center, as usual, in the habit of it.

Now, why might Trump have a different perspective. A chart from here:

And that chart was as of Feb. 2016; where we learn the Trumpster got the GOP nomination with big pharma being late magi to the Tower penthouse.

Online, same vote, CNBC noting:

On the surface, the drug companies won a battle against Senator Bernie Sanders as his bill to allow pharmaceutical distributors and pharmacists to import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada and other countries lost by a narrow 52-46 vote. And Sanders is fuming at the 13 Democratic Senators who essentially killed the bill by voting against it.

But first impressions can be deceiving. The bigger news is that 12 Republicans joined the Sanders forces and voted in favor of his bill. Suddenly, the battle lines in the pharma wars are shifting. They didn't shift in time to get this cheaper drug importation bill passed, but that measure was small potatoes anyway. The stakes will be much higher in the coming months, and the anti-pharma armies are getting stronger.

Just look at some of the names of the key GOP Senators with seniority or national renown as conservatives who voted in favor: Ted Cruz, (yes THAT Ted Cruz), Charles Grassley, John Thune, John McCain, Jeff Flake, and Mike Lee. And note well that the newest Republican Senator, John Kennedy from Louisiana, also joined in favor. More on Kennedy, and why his vote was especially telling in a moment.

But first, it's hard to discount the importance of seeing Senators like Cruz and Thune join in on a bill clearly meant to send a message to the drug industry. This is very much the result of more and more bi-partisan opposition to exploding prescription drug prices in individual cases like Mylan's EpiPen last year and the Martin Shkreli-induced 50-fold increase for a life-saving drug called Daraprim in 2015. And while Democrats and Republicans joined in the drug company-bashing and drug company CEO-bashing in response to those incidents during Senate hearings, actually standing up and being counted in a vote meant to warn the entire drug industry is more significant.

Of course, this is not just a result of the EpiPen costs and Martin Shkreli. This new party-line crossing trend has a lot to do with the new sheriff coming to the White House next week. President-elect Donald Trump sent drug sector stocks into a tailspin earlier this week when he made a special point of calling out the drug companies for "getting away with murder" in their pricing power.

As to the Trumpster's bona fides; we wait and see.

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