Posted by: samhenry | September 25, 2009

Following the Money for 9/25/2009: Pharma Industry Continues Negative Influence on Health Care Reform

FOLLOWING THE MONEYUS and Chinese currencies

by SamHenry, Editor

Although warned in a post in these pages about the overriding power of the pharmaceutical companies, it seems so many people, so many in Congress, were so delighted in the support for Health Care Reform 2009, few questions were asked; little research into the way of the Pharma industry was undertaken.  Now comes word that the costs have hit the fan in the area of Medicare as an area that will primarily fund the public component in HR 3200. VotingFemales Friends Speak!

Understandably  seniors across the nation were concerned with the focus on Medicare cost savings as the primary engine fueling the public component.  Not one word from Congress about what areas for savings were considered that led them to this conclusion.  Throughout most of the Health Care debate, the Congressional Office of the Budget declared that hope for such funding was misinformed.

Democrats agonized Thursday over how to soothe worried seniors but decided one idea was too risky because it could antagonize the powerful drug industry whose support is critically needed for President Barack Obama’s broader overhaul. The Senate Finance Committee defeated a Democratic amendment that would have gradually closed the coverage gap in the Medicare drug benefit at the expense of drugmakers.

Can you totally trust an industry that is known for end runs around FDA regulations?  A prime example happened recently.  In the sacred pages of the New York Times August 4, 2009

Medical Papers by Ghostwriters Pushed Therapy

Newly unveiled court documents show that ghostwriters paid by a pharmaceutical company played a major role in producing 26 scientific papers backing the use of hormone replacement therapy in women, suggesting that the level of hidden industry influence on medical literature is broader than previously known.

The articles, published in medical journals between 1998 and 2005, emphasized the benefits and de-emphasized the risks of taking hormones to protect against maladies like aging skin, heart disease and dementia. That supposed medical consensus benefited Wyeth, the pharmaceutical company that paid a medical communications firm to draft the papers, as sales of its hormone drugs, called Premarin and Prempro, soared to nearly $2 billion in 2001.

But the seeming consensus fell apart in 2002 when a huge federal study on hormone therapy was stopped after researchers found that menopausal women who took certain hormones had an increased risk of invasive breast cancer, heart disease and stroke. A later study found that hormones increased the risk of dementia in older patients.

The ghostwritten papers were typically review articles, in which an author weighs a large body of medical research and offers a bottom-line judgment about how to treat a particular ailment. The articles appeared in 18 medical journals, including The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and The International Journal of Cardiology.

The articles did not disclose Wyeth’s role in initiating and paying for the work. Elsevier, the publisher of some of the journals, said it was disturbed by the allegations of ghostwriting and would investigate.

What with all of the many lawsuits common to this sector of the economy and questionable acts under regulations, this is clearly not an area where cost savings could be anticipated – or relied upon. What were the Democrats thinking?  It takes little research to find an overview of this industry.

Undeterred the Democrats will continue to search of cost Aavings in the Medicare area.  Minus the big guy Pharma, the search will be extremely limited.  When will the Democrats discover the error of their premises?  When will ordinary citizens wake up to call Congressonal Democrats to further innumerate WHERE in Medicare they will find significant cost savings in Medicare.

Either cuts in services to seniors or tight regulation of who clients may see ( an area Obama determinedly underscored in most of this Healththat this would not happen) seem inevitable.  Of  course the ordinary citizens will also make their contributions to this effort – TAXES.  Well, Congressional Democrats, continue to push through a bill that requires additional research and comment. This is good for the nations health, is it not?

New York Times


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