Saturday, January 26, 2013 | By arlene | 2 Comments
By Ed Silverman // January 24th, 2013 // 9:14 am
Following disclosure that the recently passed ‘fiscal cliff’ bill delays Medicare price restraints on a group of medications that will benefit Amgen while costing taxpayers up to $500 million over two years, a Vermont congressman yesterday introduced legislation to repeal the controversial largesse.
The ‘fiscal cliff’ bill gives the biotech an extra two years to sell Sensipar, a pill that is used for kidney dialysis and generatd $808 million in sales in 2011. But Amgen also contributed generously to several US Senators who had direct influence over the final language (back story and section 632 in the bill is here).The revelation prompted outrage over the old-fashioned political horsetrading, especially since this comes at a time when the nation is debating not only rising healthcare costs, but also the national debt.
“This eleventh-hour, backroom deal confirms the American public’s worst suspicions of how Congress operates,” says Democrat Peter Welch in a statement.“As the nation’s economy teetered on the edge of a Congressional-created fiscal cliff, lobbyists for a private, for-profit company seized an opportunity to feed at the public trough. Without scrutiny or debate, the American taxpayer was stuck with the $500 million tab. This special interest provision should have stood on its own merits with an up or down vote. It’s no wonder cockroaches and root canals are more popular than Congress.”
There are three co-sponsors – New York Republican Richard Hanna, Tennessee Democrat Jim Cooper and Bruce Braley, a Democrat from Iowa. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the House Committee on Ways and Means. As soon as the bill becomes available, we will provide a link.