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Drug Companies Control Congress

If you want to know why I believe the mega-pharmaceutical companies are truly an evil influence on the health of Americans and, for that matter, the world, you need look no further than the cover story in the business section of this morning's USA Today. It illustrates perfectly how many dollars it takes to buy enough influence at the national level to ensure the gravy train keeps running flush with cash, and on time.

Although the dollars the mega-pharmaceuticals spent on lobbying alone -- more than $750 million over the past seven years -- are astronomical by most people's standards, so are the profits. And, by the way, the drug companies spend more on lobbying than any other industry.

The Medicare Drug Bill is certainly a classic example. A bill that was supposed to cost a measly $400 billion over a decade has now grown to more than $1 trillion. Almost makes that $750 million seem by comparison like a drop in the bucket.

What was particularly revealing is just how deeply the taint of the mega-pharmaceutical influence permeates all that you see and hear in the media, in addition to all the decisions made in Congress. Even things you may not suspect...

  • The lead section describes a trip taken by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) celebrating the election of fellow Republicans in the Southeastern United States in a corporate jet owned by Schering-Plough. Ultimately, Frist paid nothing for the privilege, as the senator's political action committee paid some $11,000 to Schering for use of the plane and the mega-pharmaceutical donated $10,000 to his campaign in 2003-04.
  • Billy Tauzin, a former Republican representative from Louisiana and primary Congressional leader behind the aforementioned Medicare Drug Bill, now heads the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).
  • Even patient advocacy groups receive part of their annual operating budgets from the mega-pharmaceuticals. One non-profit cited -- the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry -- disclosed it receives 12 percent of its funding from them.
  • The drug industry employs almost 1,300 lobbyists, more than two for every member of Congress!

This is indeed a major article that describes, without a doubt, why our health care system is so fatally flawed. And it makes me all the more determined to realize my vision to spearhead a movement to replace the existing, broken health care paradigm, focused on drug-based solutions for curing conditions, and replace it with one that treats the true causes of disease.

USA Today April 26, 2005

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