Friday, April 29, 2005
$11,290,000. That's the bucks kicked in by members of the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America to a ballot fund set up to defeat anti-Pharm measures. Not even the combo of fundraising champs big business and Governor Schwarzenegger can match Pharma's warchest. Even with a possibly illegal $350,000 helping hand from Arnold's California Recovery Team this week, big business comes up woefully short of Pharma at $7,471,000 . . . so far.
With our federal government already hooked on Pharma's product (money), the industry is now planning to use some of that product on democracy in California. Seeing as how the pharmaceutical industry does not always disclose the results of trials of their product (prompting the introduction of bills in Congress (the Fair Access to Clinical Trials Act) and California (AB 72 - Patient Safety and Drug Review Transparency Act) to force them to do so), we believe it incumbent upon us to discuss some of the possible side effects of Pharma's use of wealth to buy public policy in California.
1) Democratus distortus: Pharma spends millions to flood our airwaves with political ads. These ads are a mirage of sorts, appearing on the public airwaves not because their message enjoys popular support, but because a few companies have the bucks to pay for them.
2) Cost-itis: when corporations or rich folks or other wealthy interests are able to amass huge warchests for political campaigns, the price of campaigns - mailings, ads, etc. - for everyone goes up. With Pharma's $800 billion in annual revenue likely to rise under the Medicare prescription drug benefit, they've got plenty more cash to kick in on top of the $11 million already in the kitty, which could easily price nearly every grassroots movement in the country out of the initiative process.
3) Populus brokus: by spending millions to defeat popular initiatives to provide safer, cheaper drugs to Californians, Pharma maintains their ability to force Californian consumers to pay ridiculous prices for prescriptions. It's not like living in this state is getting any cheaper.
The latest round of campaign finance filings are due on Monday, May 2. We'll see then whether big business has been able to close the gap on Pharma for the biggest purveyor of bad medicine for California's democracy.