Can you hear that? It’s the sound of political spinning, twirling and flip-flopping — followed closely by backbones turning to mush.
In the face of a relentless disinformation campaign (and lots of campaign donations) by the pharmaceutical industry and its front groups over the past several months, both Barack Obama and John McCain are showing strong signs of backing down — in unison — from their pledges to legalize Canadian drug reimportation if they are elected.
Call them the Flying Wallendas of Flip-Flops. For guys who claim to be about change — with McCain having the nerve to boast that he “took on the drug industry” in his campaign ads — they are beginning to spew the same old song and dance when it comes to prescription drug policy. I suppose that’s because Big Pharma dollars aren’t red or blue; they’re green.
Reports Reuters, which spoke to an adviser for each candidate:
Neither adviser said their candidate had abandoned reimportation, but had realized it would be more difficult … Groups representing brand-name and generic drugmakers, including GPhA, oppose reimportation, saying it could allow more unsafe products into the country.
So, why the impending flip-flop?
Big Pharma has been working overtime to scare people into thinking Canadian drugs aren’t safe. What is their argument in making this charge?
That the FDA is incompetent to do its current job — and certainly can’t be expected to properly regulate drugs coming in from foreign countries.
After the massive FDA failures of the past couple of years, it’s hard to argue that the FDA has its act together. But let’s take a step back for a moment.
The FDA was one of America’s most trusted and respected regulatory agencies in the ’70s, as public opinion polls at that time made clear. Then, first in the ’80s and then again in this decade, politicians favoring deregulation (and funded by the pharmaceutical industry) slashed the FDA’s staff, budget and power. By the end of Bush’s first term, the agency was a shell of its former self.
And now we wonder why we’re having problems with drugs coming in from China?
If you are naive enough to believe that Big Pharma is actually concerned about the safety of the public (rather than protecting its profits) when it opposes Canadian drug reimportation, ask yourself this question: Is Big Pharma in favor of the federal government rebuilding a strong — and independent — FDA?
The answer is no. It’s not. It just wants to scare the public away from Canadian drugs. When Obama and McCain complete their flip-flops, Big Pharma will have won. And then it’s back to business as usual.
I’m sorry if this sounds cynical — but this stuff has been happening too long to sugar-coat. We’ve been in the grip of the pharmaceutical industry for far, far too long.
Ironically, The Wall Street Journal is now wondering if there is still even demand for Canadian drugs among U.S. consumers, given the discontinuation of some state and municipal reimportation programs for lack of interest.
The reality is, there’s very strong public demand for prescription drugs from licensed Canadian pharmacies — which persists in the face even of Big Pharma’s most shameful scare tactics. Programs like the one the Journal cites in Boston failed because consumers don’t need the government involved in this way; they can purchase drugs from Canada directly using eDrugSearch.com to verify a pharmacy’s licensing and accreditations.
And that’s what they do. It’s also what they’ll continue to do in 2009 and beyond, in either an Obama or McCain administration.