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President Obama, Campaign Promises and Drug Money

During his campaign, Barack Obama promised to, “…Allow Americans to buy their medicines from other developed countries if the drugs are safe and prices are lower outside the U.S.”


Of course, that was before he made that deal with the Pharma lobbyists.  (,0,5896090.story)

In an odd coincidence, the following Obama Administration meetings were reported the same week the private group Legitscript strong-armed inhousepharmacy into no longer serving US customers.  Perhaps things weren’t happening fast enough via that route, or too many companies weren’t willing to join into the agreements offered and needed a little convincing.  Either way, it gives at least the appearance of a coordinated effort.

(From… )

“While there’s been increasing attention paid to the “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act”  (COICA), the proposed law that would allow the government to require ISPs and registrars to block access to websites deemed to be “dedicated to infringing activities,” it looks like the White House (which we had thought was against censoring the internet) appears to be working on a backup plan in case COICA doesn’t pass.

That is, while most folks have been focused on COICA, the White House’s Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IP Czar) Victoria Espinel has apparently been holding meetings with ISPs, registrars, payment processors and others to get them to agree to voluntarily do what COICA would mandate. While the meeting is carefully focused on stopping websites that sell gray market pharmaceuticals, if registrars start agreeing to censoring websites at the behest of the government, it’s as if we’re halfway to a COICA-style censorship regime already.”

Legitscript is an organization started by John Horton, ostensibly the very moment he stopped working as the Associate Deputy Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) under President Bush (although the org’s domains were registered before he stepped down).  They’ve reached private “agreements” with a large number of ISP’s and domain registrars to not do business with offshore companies that the large pharmaceuticals don’t like.  Such as those that allow US citizens to get their sometimes life-saving drugs at much lower cost than here.  Last week they somehow privately convinced InHousePharmacy to post a message that it would no longer sell to US customers despite it being legal to do in their home country (they are located in Vanuatu) and despite it being legal for US citizens to order from them under some circumstances.  

Dirty as it is, I can at least understand that move.  LegitScript is a lobbying & pressuring organization, despite the attempts to portray it as some sort of grassroots group trying to “keep Americans safe from illegal anabolic steroids” (the big news item when the group was starting up).  They deny being funded by Pharma, but do admit that they produce and sell “reports” and perform for-fee consulting.  So, they’re creepy.  I can deal with that.

President Obama, on the other hand is not a lobbying organization, nor a private group dedicated to manipulating targeted markets.  He’s the President of the United States.  In order to get our votes and our money and to get us to campaign for him, among other things he made promises.  Like the promise to allow the importation of prescription drugs in order to combat high drug prices.  Like FISA and so many issues since, once he had what he wanted his actions revealed an intent opposite his promises to us.  Last year he made a shady eighty-billion dollar deal with lobbyists to not include provisions for drug importation in the Health Care Reform bill.  

But this new betrayal is different.  This is going outside the law and directly pressuring private companies to do the bidding of the international corporations he’s already shown influence his actions.  There’s no paper trail and no regulation. There’s not even a clear definition of, “infringing activities”.  This is the President telling companies who they should refuse to do business with not based on law but on some other company’s profits.  It’s wrong and it hurts America.

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