Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I love the Weekly Spin newsletter from PR Watch. For one thing it comes on a Wednesday when nothing else arrives and every issue is enlightening. If you're interested in how the public relations industry sells bad policy to the public at large, I recommend you subscribe. It's free.

This week's issue looks at the politics of the legal drug industry. One item made an good point on lobbyists. It's important to remember that not all of them are corrupt or work for multinational corporations. Many work for causes that benefit society and indeed the drug reform movement employs many people to haunt the legislators across the nation. We shouldn't blame the corruption on what they call the "government relations profession." More lobbyists probably function to keep your legislators honest than not.

Unfortunately the possibilities for corruption abound and the real players in the game are the politicians who use their political office as a gateway into lucrative salaries for influence peddling. For instance:

Rep. Billy Tauzin delivered a $540 billion prescription-drug benefit for Medicare. Now, the Louisiana Republican is leaving Congress for a $2 million-a-year job in the drug industry.

...Rep. Tauzin, facing the end of his term as chairman of the House Science and Commerce Committee, pushed through passage of the Medicare bill in December and announced his resignation in February.

This was good news for Eli Lily shareholders, but bad news for the elderly who depend on Medicare for their medicines.

Stock prices in drug companies surged on passage of the bill. The securities firm Goldman Sachs estimated the bill would increase spending on prescription drugs by about $13 billion a year. The law specifically bans the government from using its buying power to negotiate lower drug costs, which could have locked the industry into lower prices not just for Medicare drugs but for drugs for all Americans. To make it even more difficult for the elderly to obtain affordable medicine, it continues the ban on buying cheaper drugs from Canada.

I don't how someone like Tauzin sleeps at night knowing that he has caused such undue hardship to our elderly citizens.

Meanwhile, the FDA wants to celebrate 100 years of what they call, 'Protecting and Advancing America's Health', on June 30, 2006 by spending your tax dollars to hire a PR firm to promote the theme and justify its future existence.

However, as Weekly Spin adroitly points out:

...Before FDA knocks itself over patting itself on the back with its tax-subsidized PR campaign, let's look a little harder at its record versus its mythology. We have exposed many serious instances of FDA failing as protector of public health, including dragging its feet to ban silicone breast implants, caving to Monsanto by approving bovine growth hormone, ignoring public support for and right to the labeling of genetically engineered foods and failing even at this late date to ban the feeding of slaughterhouse waste to livestock, allowing the spread of mad cow disease. Come to think of it, no wonder they need to hire a PR firm!

These are your tax dollars at work folks. Considering the FDA has no competition, don't you think they should be spending them on actual food and drug testing instead of advertising?


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home