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Is "Cures" Bill $6 Billion Gift to Drug Companies?
11/30/2016 Health Care Raymond Z
keywords: Health Care

As the final days of this year's Congress come to a close, Democrats are calling the $6.3 billion, 1,000 page “21st Century Cures” bill a giant gift to drug companies. One thing is for certain. It is the most lobbied bill of the 114th Congress. According to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), of the over 11,000 pieces of legislation introduced, more lobbyists representing interested organizations have lobbied for or against this bill than any other. In fact, the CRP states it has tracked 1,455 lobbyist working on the legislation. In case you're keeping track, that is about three lobbyists for each member of congress. It is estimated almost a half-billion dollars has been invested in pushing the bill in one direction or another. Most of the financial “push” however, is coming from pharmaceutical companies who stand to gain financially from the bill's passage.

Where the Money is Headed

The lion's share of the spending in the $6.3 billion bill would head to the National Institute of Health (NIH). The NIH would receive $4.8 billion if the bill passes. In addition, another $1 billion would head to the states for research and drug abuse prevention efforts. The remaining $500 million would be directed to the FDA so drug approval procedures could be accelerated. While even Democrats generally support improved research and abuse prevention funding, there are fears over other provisions of the 21st Century Cures Bill.

Too Much Power for Drug Companies?

Provisions in the bill would limit the amount of reporting drug companies would have to do in regard to payments made to doctors. Some fear this will lead to doctors being “paid” to prescribe particular drugs. Since the bill streamlines the drug approval process, some are concerned about drugs not being properly researched before being approved for other uses. Others see it as weakening the FDA and its ability to “police” drug companies. It also would protect branded drugs created by pharmaceutical companies from generic competitors longer.

While both sides generally agree the NIH is underfunded, opponents feel that provisions that are too favorable to drug companies are being included unnecessarily in the funding bill. This is why some are calling the bill “very, very dangerous”, “legalized fraud”, and “corrupt.” It may not necessarily be a $6 billion gift to drug companies but proposed changes in the way pharmaceutical companies operate may be even a greater present.

Headed for Passage?

The bill, potentially with some changes, appears headed for passage. You can read full details of the 21st Century Cures Bill on the  Voteopolis Website

Source: Raymond Z

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