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from Daily Mislead
February 25
, 2004

President Bush has done a lot of favors for those who have given him money, but few have benefited so handsomely from their financial ties to him than the drug industry and CEOs like Pfizer's Hank McKinnell - a Bush campaign "Ranger." While the president said he wants to give "older Americans better choices and more control over their health care", he is actually refusing to let seniors purchase lower-priced, FDA-approved medicines from Canada. While a recent poll shows that two-thirds of Americans support giving seniors this right and while governors from both parties support the idea, drug companies like Pfizer universally opposed the idea because it would cut into the billions of dollars in profits they make each year bilking Americans with high prices. President Bush, unfortunately, has sided with Pfizer and against seniors, prohibiting seniors from purchasing lower priced medicines from Canada. Here are the details of the scam:


President Bush and his Republican allies have taken at least $74 million in hard and soft money contributions from the drug industry since 2000. That's about $48,000 per day or $2,033 per hour, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week to President Bush since 2000 - a hefty salary, even for a well-heeled lobbyist. On one night in 2002 alone, the president and his allies raked in $30 million from the drug industry, with pharmaceutical companies paying $250,000 "for red-carpet treatment" by the president just two days after his Capitol Hill allies unveiled an industry-backed Medicare bill.

The Bush campaign's top individual donors - euphemistically named "Rangers" and "Pioneers" - are also chock full of drug industry executives. Hank McKinnell, chairman and CEO of Pfizer, "has pledged to raise $200,000" for the Bush campaign, while "in-house lobbyists from Bayer Corp, AstraZeneca and Wyeth were named Pioneers." And the president has not just used traditional channels to line his campaign's warchest with drug industry cash: in 2001, the president took $625,000 from the industry to help pay for his lavish inaugural parties.


With states, cities, and individual seniors struggling to pay the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs, many have defied federal law and traveled to Canada to purchase lower-priced medicines. The drug industry, whose ability to keep prices artificially high in the United States is threatened by reimportation, has opposed these efforts and enlisted President Bush to kill all legislation to formally legalize reimportation. Just last year, Congress passed a version of reimportation, but the president stripped out the provisions from the final Medicare bill. Recently, when a coalition of bipartisan lawmakers asked to meet with the president and his health officials on the subject, they refused, and instead attended "a meeting sponsored by reimportation opponents."

Now, with pressure mounting from seniors and powerful lawmakers like Senator John McCain (R-AZ), the president has resorted to outright dishonesty in his fight to keep medicine prices high. Specifically, he is claiming that importing prescription drugs from Canada is "unsafe" - yet even his own Administration's health "officials can't name a single American who's been injured or killed by drugs bought from licensed Canadian pharmacies." As the president's own top FDA health official admitted, "I can't think of one thing off the top of my head where somebody died or somebody got put in the hospital because of these medications. I just don't know if there's anything like that." Professor Paul L. Doering, one of the nation's leading experts, said the Administration's argument is "hogwash" as "drugs purchased through the Canadian health care system are every bit as safe as those available in the United States." He said simply that the Bush Administration's tactics are "a smokescreen.

Posted: March 1, 2004


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