Submitted by Frank Slider|
Last June President George W. Bush singled out a fellow American for his
thanks in front of a crowd of 6,500. He didn't thank him for his service to
the country's war on terrorism, or for some sort of important scientific
discovery, or for being a great teacher and example for young people.
No, the occasion was a GOP fundraiser, and President George W. Bush thanked
Robert A. Ingram, president of pharmaceutical operations at GlaxoSmithKline,
for his fundraising prowess. Ingram was chairman of the dinner that brought
in more than $30 million for the National Republican Congressional
Committee, according to the National Journal.
GlaxoSmithKline markets a drug called Lanoxin, widely used by the nation's
seniors to treat congestive heart failure. The price of Lanoxin has risen
58.1 percent since 1997, according to a report by Families USA-nearly five
times the rate of inflation. GlaxoSmithKline, along with the rest of the
pharmaceutical drug industry, fiercely opposes Congressional proposals to
add comprehensive prescription drug coverage to the Medicare program.
Already, the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry has contributed $11.3
million to federal candidates and parties toward this year's mid-term
elections, three-fourths of that to the GOP, according to the Center for
Responsive Politics. In the 2000 election cycle, the industry gave $19.3
million, 77 percent to Republicans, of which the Bush-Cheney campaign
received $289,500. The pharmaceutical and health products industry also
threw in $950,000 for the Bush-Cheney Inaugural Fund.
Not surprisingly, the picture is not encouraging for Americans who need
affordable drugs. Republicans in Washington, D.C. are looking out for their
The Bush Administration announced that it will not implement a provision
passed by the Senate-by a 69 to 30 vote-that would allow U.S. pharmacies and
wholesalers to re-import prescription drugs from Canada, where costs are
lower. Interestingly, the sponsor of that amendment, Sen. Byron Dorgan
(D-ND), has gotten just $11,000 from pharmaceutical manufacturers over the
years, while the 30 Senators who voted against the amendment have collected
an average of $88,430.
Another plan by Senate Democrats, fiercely opposed by the pharmaceutical
industry, was defeated by a vote of 52 to 47 (60 votes were needed for the
legislation to move forward). The bill would have created a new government
prescription drug benefit for Medicare beneficiaries, at the cost of $594
billion over several years.
The Bush Administration and most Republicans continue to promote a private
plan run by the same corporate interests who fund their campaigns. They're
comfortable letting the foxes guard the henhouse.
But with corporate scandals surfacing almost daily, and drug prices
increasing faster than any other industry, the American people should
strongly question if they want corporate America to be responsible for the
health of their mothers, fathers, grandparents, and children.
You might also ask why it is that the President singles out pharmaceutical
CEOs for his personal thanks, while you see your own pocketbook dwindle from
paying for the prescriptions drugs you and your family need.
Maybe its because his Mom and Dad, and his wife and children are already
covered by a prescription drug plan. One funded by the Federal Government!