Same old song..

From Meryl Dorey, AVN Charatan 322 (7280): 192d
I thought that a few years before I moved
to Australia, a law was passed in the US that no individual or company could
donate more than a certain amount to any one candidate. Am I mistaken? This
sort of influence buying should be against the law and it will be
interesting to see how George W Bush treats his owners while in office. One
good thing - at least Burton will still be leader of his committee. Long may
he serve!

BMJ 2001;322:192 ( 27 January )

News roundup

US drug companies help pay for Bush inauguration
Fred Charatan Florida

The glitz of President George W Bush's inauguration ceremony owed a
considerable debt to the US pharmaceutical industry, which paid $1.7m
(1.1m) towards the estimated $17m bill for the occasion.

Its generosity at the crowning moment of President Bush's journey to the
White House mirrored the substantial support that it gave to the Texan
governor during his election campaign. Over three quarters of the industry's
contributions went to Republicans.

Last November, the non-profit watchdog group Public Citizen predicted that
the prescription drug industry would spend about $230m during the election.
The money would be spent three ways-on supporting the industry's lobbyists
in Congress, on campaign contributions, and on issue advertisements in print
and on television by Citizens for Better Medicare, a front group for the

Drug company lobbying for the first half of 2000 reached $42.9m, according
to disclosure reports, said Public Citizen. The leader was Schering-Plough
at $3 880 000.

"Most of that money will go toward protecting the drug industry's
extraordinary profits and preventing consumers from obtaining affordable
prescriptions," said Public Citizen's president, Joan Clayton.

The drug industry opposed President Clinton's plan to extend the Medicare
programme so that it partially covered the cost of prescription drugs for
its beneficiaries (BMJ 2000;320;1093). It ran a series of TV ads at the
time, which said, "I don't want big government in my medicine cabinet."

It also opposed price controls on drugs legislated last year in the state of
Maine. Alan Holmer, president of the Pharmaceutical Research and
Manufacturers of America, condemned the Maine law as "anti-patient,
anti-innovation, anti-business, and we believe unconstitutional." He said
that price controls on drugs would not help those who lack coverage with
prescription drugs, but would harm those waiting for new cures and
treatments for such diseases as Alzheimer's disease, cancer, and AIDS.

"Americans don't need a patchwork of state price control approaches, whose
overall effect would be to slow the development of new and better
medicines," Mr Holmer said, "We need national insurance legislation that
would extend insurance coverage to those who lack it."

During last October's US Senate debate on reimportation of prescription
drugs the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said, "We
strongly oppose the drug reimport bill and urge the Senate to reject it. For
the sake of American patients, senators should heed the warnings of nearly a
dozen former Food and Drug Administration commissioners who say that
reimportation will put patient health at risk."

For their contributions to President Bush's victory, the drug manufacturers
hope for a halt in moves to regulate the cost of patented prescription
drugs, a vigorous campaign against the production of generic substitutes
abroad, and prohibition of reimportation of drugs whose purity and efficacy
cannot be guaranteed.
  BMJ 2000 320: 1093. [Full text]