Big Pharma

01 Dec: Pfizer cuts sales employees in wake of election results

The New York Times reports that Pfizer will be laying off 2,400 sales representatives and managers, roughly 20 percent of Pfizer’s U.S. drug rep work force. These cutbacks are due to the recent election results, coupled with Pfizer’s inability to come up with innovative new drugs. With Democratic leaders in Congress vowing to wring savings from the Medicare prescription drug program, drug makers are under pressure to bring their costs down… … Despite a $7 billion annual research budget, Pfizer has had deep difficulties bringing new drugs to market. Earlier yesterday, Pfizer announced it had ended a research collaboration with a European company to develop asenapine, a treatment for schizophrenia that analysts had predicted could be a multibillion-dollar drug. Dont…

28 Nov: Worried over election results, Big Pharma whips out its pocketbook

Big Pharma is scrambling to make new connections with Democratic senators and representatives after the November elections. A Georgia Lawyer cites an MSNBC article that says: After spending an estimated $10 million on Republican incumbent candidates ahead of this year’s mid-term elections Democrats received about $4.5m no other sector is expected to face as hostile a reception on Capitol Hill after the Democrats take over in 2007. Big Pharma has already recruited several high powered Democrats, including John Breaux, a former senator and drug lobbyist. Many drug company executives like Jeffrey Kindler … have already shifted their support to the new majority party. This comes as no surprise as Big Pharma certainly fears the end of the free ride on…

27 Nov: “Together Rx” is more Big Pharma nonsense

The “100 hours” agenda of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi includes proposals for significant healthcare reform. As the Huffington Post quotes Pelosi: We will make healthcare more affordable for all Americans, and we will begin by fixing the Medicare prescription drug program, putting seniors first by negotiating lower drug prices. This is the first glimmer of hope in some time for the millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans seeking better health coverage. Americans are crying out for reforms that truly help the underinsured, rather than gimmicky programs that offer little real relief — which is all we get from Big Pharma. The Blog That Ate Manhattan reports on some current prescription assistance plans that are little more than clever…

22 Nov: FDA figures out another way to make you pay more for drugs

From Reuters: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has struck a deal with pharmaceutical companies under which they would pay the agency fees for vetting their TV advertisements in exchange for speedier reviews… The FDA is expected to get more than $300 million in user fees in fiscal 2007, the last year of the current arrangement. The figure would increase by about one-third in fiscal 2008 under the proposed agreement… Let us break this down for you: The FDA is charging Big Pharma more to approve TV commercials faster, so drug companies can put more ads on TV faster. Big Pharma will then pass these costs — as well as the costs of the additional commercials they will presumably now…

21 Nov: How the drug patent process protects Big Pharma’s profits

Patents were created to protect inventors’ right to their discoveries and to promote the progress of society. But over time, the drug industry has come to know patents as a money-printing machine. Today, drug patents actually work against their original purpose — discouraging real innovation in the pharmaceutical industry. The most profitable venture for drug companies is stretching out the patent of a billion-dollar drug. Patents make it illegal for a competitor to sell the same drug for a certain period of time. The longer a drug company can stretch out the patent life, the more money it can make. Extending a patent a few extra months translates into millions of dollars of added revenue. Once a drug company’s patent…

20 Nov: Wal-Mart won’t solve the prescription drug crisis

A lot of attention has been given to Wal-Mart’s decision to cut the price of a small number of generic drugs. The move has inspired many commentators to suggest there is no longer a prescription drug crisis; as Right Voices summarizes this opinion: Let the private sector take care of the problem … retailers will compete to get the customer in the door. If only it were that simple. The reality is that Wal-Mart’s price cuts are more a PR move than a significant improvement for Americans without prescription drug coverage. As the Kaiser Family Foundation explains: Consumer advocates and health care economists say that Wal-Mart’s program, and similar discount programs launched by other retailers including BJ’s Wholesale Club and…

20 Nov: Why Big Pharma employs so many lobbyists

There is a drug war going on behind the scenes in this country, and it has nothing to do with illegal narcotics. It is a war in Washington that Big Pharma has waged to protect inflated prescription drug prices by political connections and money. A good example of the political power employed by Big Pharma is the prescription drug benefit added to Medicare in 2003. Until recent years, there was little demand for such a benefit, because prescription medications were less expensive and people did not take as many of them. Today, many seniors take five to six medications daily, which translates into thousands of dollars each year paid out-of-pocket by seniors for prescription medications. Since seniors comprise such a…

16 Nov: Why do prescription drugs cost so much more in the U.S. than Canada?

The price gap between American and Canadian drugs continues to grow at a record pace. But what is causing the price of Canadian medications to remain stable while the price of American medications skyrockets? There are two primary reasons: 1.) Drug Price Controls In Canada, a government review board places a maximum market price for all new brand name drugs entering the market, and allows prices to rise only at the rate of inflation. These controls protect the consumer from price gouging by the major pharmaceutical companies and reduce the price difference between brand name and generic drugs. 2.) U.S. Consumers Bear the Entire Burden of R&D — and More American consumers pay roughly 3000 percent more than the actual…

15 Nov: Why the ban on Canadian drug imports is not enforced on individuals

The push to legalize Canadian drug importation has been a dominant headline in the newspapers over the last several years.  Stories of how the elderly load up on buses and go north to save money are heard all too often.  But are those seniors actually criminals for purchasing their medications in Canada? If the government wanted to, it could throw grandma and grandpa behind bars for illegally importing prescription medications.  This doesn’t mean that the government is going to prosecute the average Joe trying to save money on his prescription drugs.  The government is more worried about companies purchasing large amounts with the intent of reselling them in order to make a profit. Although the FDA does not encourage importation,…

14 Nov: Let’s end concerns about the safety of licensed Canadian pharmacies

While it is well-known that prescription medications from Canada are less expensive than the same drugs in the U.S., many consumers have concerns about the safety of Canadian drug imports. But is there any real reason for consumers to fear purchasing medications from licensed Canadian pharmacies? The fact is, drugs purchased from licensed Canadian pharmacies generally come from the same U.S. drug manufacturers that ship them to American pharmacies.  Legitimate pharmacies in the U.S. and Canada rarely, if ever, receive counterfeit medications. In 2003 the U.S. House of Representatives approved importing prescription medications from Canada by a vote of 243 to 186.  The U.S. Senate has voted similarly.  Many state and local governments are currently purchasing Canadian medications for their…

13 Nov: Why the FDA is against Canadian imports — separating myth from reality

The FDA was created to serve the American public by assuring that our food and drugs are safe.  In recent decades, however, the FDA has focused less on public health and more on protecting drug-company profits.  That’s the real reason the Bush Administration and the FDA oppose medication imports from Canada.  Let’s look at some of the arguments against Canadian imports and compare them to the realities: 1.) Loss of Jobs The Bush Administration claims that legal Canadian imports will cause a loss of jobs in the pharmaceutical industry.  The reality is that allowing drug imports — like other forms of free trade — will simply create a more competitive market, yielding lower prices that will put money back into…

08 Nov: Municipalities increasingly importing Canadian drugs for employees

Earlier this year, Boston joined the growing number of cities that have turned to Canada in search of more affordable prescription medications. Mayor Thomas M. Menino implemented a plan that is expected to save the city of Boston over $1 million over the next year by importing prescription medications for city workers and retirees. City council member, Felix Arroyo blamed the rapidly rising cost of drugs on the big pharmaceutical companies. “We need a limit to profits when our lives are on the line,” he said. Many other cities have already taken the same steps to order their prescription drugs from licensed Canadian pharmacies to cut back on costs.  Springfield, Mass., was the first city in the nation to implement…