Watch This Legislation Get Smothered: Bill to Rescind Amgen’s $500 Million Freebie
Following disclosure that the recently passed ‘fiscal cliff’ bill delays Medicare price restraints on a group of medications that will benefit Amgen (AMGN) while costing taxpayers up to $500 million over two years, a Vermont congressman this week introduced legislation to repeal the controversial largesse.
The ‘fiscal cliff’ bill gives the biotech an extra two years to sell Sensipar, a pill that is used for kidney dialysis and generated $808 million in sales in 2011. But Amgen also contributed generously to several U.S. Senators who had direct influence over the final language (covered in earlier Pharma news).
The revelation prompted outrage over the old-fashioned political horse trading, especially since this comes at a time when the nation is debating not only rising healthcare costs, but also the national debt. “This eleventh-hour, backroom deal confirms the American public’s worst suspicions of how Congress operates,” says Democrat Peter Welch, standing at right in the photo.
“As the nation’s economy teetered on the edge of a Congressional-created fiscal cliff, lobbyists for a private, for-profit company seized an opportunity to feed at the public trough. Without scrutiny or debate, the American taxpayer was stuck with the $500 million tab. This special interest provision should have stood on its own merits with an up or down vote. It’s no wonder cockroaches and root canals are more popular than Congress.”
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Ed Silverman, a contributing editor of YCharts, is the founder and editor of Pharmalot. He previously reported on the pharmaceutical industry and other business topics for the Star-Ledger of New Jersey, New York Newsday and Investor’s Business Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com.