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Marcy Winograd: Jane Harman Profits from Anti-Generics Amendment She Helped Eshoo Pass

jane_marcyAnna Eshoo (D-PhRMA) may be the author of the language granting drug companies endless monopolies on biologic drugs, but she couldn’t have done it without the help of her good friend Jane Harman. A new letter from the Marcy Winograd campaign says:

The latest health insurance reform bill includes an amendment, supported by Jane Harman, member of the Committee on Energy & Commerce, to extend the pharmaceutical industry’s monopoly on expensive biologic drugs to twelve years or longer, harming victims of cancer, HIV, rheumatoid arthritis and rare diseases who cannot afford to pay $50,000 to $300,000 for prescriptions or whose insurance companies place a ceiling on drug coverage.

Though Congressman Waxman (D-Santa Monica/West LA) had introduced an amendment for a 5-year fast-track of generic biologics, Harman joined with Rep. Eshoo (D-San Mateo) in committee to kill the Waxman amendment and protect the profits of big pharmaceuticals by enacting a 12-year exclusivity on the use of Big Pharma’s clinical trial data. Under this amendment’s ambiguous “ever-greening” clause drug companies could continue their monopoly indefinitely by changing a dosage instruction — thus thwarting the sale and marketing of biosimilars or less expensive generics.

I denounce Harman’s committee vote to kill the Waxman amendment. There is no excuse for putting drug company profits before patient needs. Lowering regulatory obstacles to allow for more generics not only saves patients’ lives, but also billions of dollars in taxpayer money spent on prescription drug medicines. Why should Big Pharma have a monopoly on medical research often subsidized by the taxpayers? We need representatives who will represent the people, not the big corporations.

A May 15, 2009 financial disclosure statement Harman filed with the House of Representatives reveals Harman’s 2008 investment portfolio included stock in at least three biologic manufacturers: Pfizer, Abbot Labs, and Johnson & Johnson.

So, not only is Jane Harman happy to doom breast cancer, AIDS and pediatric cancer survivors to never having access to affordable versions of the drugs they need to save their lives, just so Pfizer can profit–she makes a buck off of it, too. (Good catch by Marcy Winograd, who has always been a strong single-payer proponent.)

The Senate is the only hope now. If Sherrod Brown, Debbie Stabenow and Chuck Schumer don’t act swiftly to bring their amendment up in the Senate, Eshoo — and Harman — win.

Sign the petition and please forward to your friends right now: Tell Senators Brown, Stabenow and Schumer to fight for affordable generic drugs for cancer and AIDS patients.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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