While our focus here at DeSmogBlog is to expose the public relations and lobbying antics that hinder effective responses to climate change, we are always on the lookout for other examples of how lobbying and PR impede progress on critical legislative efforts to protect people instead of profits.
The health care reform bill in front of the U.S. Congress provides several noteworthy examples, perhaps none so appalling as that described in a front-page New York Times article this week about the pharmaceutical industry’s efforts to script the floor speeches delivered by members of the House of Representatives.
The article, “In House, Many Spoke With One Voice: Lobbyists’”, describes how lobbyists working on behalf of Genentech, one of the world’s largest biotechnology companies, succeeded in having their ghostwritten talking points repeated, often verbatim, by over 40 lawmakers on the House floor - 22 Republicans and 20 Democrats.
Genentech also succeeded in getting many of its willing spokespeople in Congress to mention the issue of generic drugs, a critical item on the industry’s lobbying agenda in the health care reform debate. Genentech no doubt hoped to drum up additional support for an amendment put forth by Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA), in whose district Genentech is located. Rep. Eshoo’s provision would have granted pharmaceutical companies up to 12 years of monopoly advantage – and perhaps longer – to sell their profitable cancer, diabetes and AIDS drugs without competition from cheaper generic forms.
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