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3/1/16

USA: Pharmaceutical Industry Ripoff of the Public Unacceptable:But Stephen J. Ubl Doesn't Buy iI

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Big Pgharma is ripping us off
Few lobbyists have walked into the kind of political inferno that greeted Stephen J. Ubl when he became the top pitchman for the pharmaceutical industry.

Mr.n Ubl, the 47-year-old president and chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, took charge in November, as the Obama administration, presidential candidates, members of Congress, consumer groups, health insurance companies and doctors were criticizing the prescription drug industry for charging prices they saw as exorbitant and excessive.

The anger has only grown worse.

“Enough is enough,” Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the firebrand Democratic presidential candidate, wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies can no longer be allowed to rip off American patients.”

That anger is just one of the challenges facing Mr. Ubl.

The pharmaceutical and health products industry spent more on federal lobbying than any other industry in  2015, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, an independent group that tracks money in politics. 

Within that sector, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America led the list, with $18.4 million in spending on a wide range of health, trade and patent issues. Mr. Ubl’s lobbying powerhouse has members that include giants like Amgen, Eli Lilly, Johnson & ohnson, Merck and Pfizer.

Thegroup reported total expenses of nearly $208 million in 2014, the most recent available filing with the Internal Revenue Service. Its 170 employees work at its headquarters here, as well as in nine offices in the United States and others in Tokyo and Dubai.

Some of that money is used to cultivate strategic relationships through grants to doctor organizations and nonprofit advocacy groups representing patients with specific diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and arthritis. And the organization multiplies its influence through more than 30 lobbying consultingc ommunications and law firms.

But public outrage over drug prices is boiling. John C. Rother, who leads the Campaign for Sustainable RPricing, backed by consumer, labor and physician groups, said Mr. Ubl was in an impossible position.

“The issue is prices,” Mr. Rother said, and the lobby for drug makers, like\ other trade associations, “can’t do much on prices without getting into trouble under the antitrust laws.” Any efforts to control or suggest
prices raise antitrust concerns, federal officials say.

Mr. Ubl (pronounced YOU-bul) said the drug lobby had been effective at beating back proposals like allowing the government to negotiate drug prices or import medicines from Canada. But, he said, it has not been as good at formulating and advancing a positive agenda. He hopes to change that. Brand-name drug companies and manufacturers of lower-cost generic drugs have historically been rivals. But Mr. Ubl said he wanted the government to speed the approval of generic drugs and approve more of them, reducing a backlog of generic drug applications. Increased competition, he said, would help hold down prices — and could perhaps avoid another outcry like the one over Daraprim, a drug to treat a life-threatening parasitic infection.

Turing Pharmaceuticals, a start-up founded by a former hedge fund manager, Martin Shkreli, acquired Daraprim last year and immediately increased the price to $750 a tablet, from $13.50.

Note EU-Digest: Many Americans who have family members or friends living abroad and need prescription drugs are often having them buy the exact similar prescription drugs as those being sold inAmerica, abroad,  at often less than 10% of the US listed price. 

In one particular case, a person who required eye drops to keep his Glaucoma pressure under control had a family friend buy the eye drops, which in America would have cost him $200.00   (same brand name and quality) for approximately $10.00 in Europe . This is not only scandalous, but also complete highway robbery.  

Read more: Pharmaceutical Industry Ripoff: Top Lobbyist for Drug Makers Threads a Thicket of Outrage -The New York Times

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