World’s Largest Biotechnology Company Uses Team of 74 Lobbyists to Win Fiscal Cliff Gift
Amgen, Inc., the world’s largest biotechnology firm, will continue to sell one of its best selling drugs at unregulated prices, thanks to a provision buried within the fiscal-cliff compromise.
With the help of its corps of 74 lobbyists, Amgen convinced lawmakers to include a clause that will prevent Medicare from imposing price restraints on a class of drugs that includes Sensipar, an Amgen medication sold to kidney dialysis patients.
The provision buys Amgen another two years of selling the drug without federal caps. That’s great news for the company’s bottom-line, but bad news for Medicare, which will pay an extra $500 million for the drug.
Some congressional aides privately criticized the gift to Amgen, noting the biotech giant had already received a two-year delay.
“That is why we are in the trouble we are in,” Dennis J. Cotter, a health policy researcher who studies the cost and efficacy of dialysis drugs, told The New York Times. “Everybody is carving out their own turf and getting it protected, and we pass the bill on to the taxpayer.”
The delay will go a good way towards making up for Amgen’s most recent criminal activity. On December 19, Amgen—as a corporate entity—pleaded guilty to illegal marketing of its anti-anemia drug, Aranesp, and agreed to pay penalties totaling $762 million.
To Learn More:
Fiscal Footnote: Big Senate Gift to Drug Maker (by Eric Lipton and Kevin Sack, New York Times)
Amgen Inc. (OpenSecrets.org)
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