PHARMA/POLICY/POLITICS: McKinnell’s friends turn and bitch-slap him, by The Industry Veteran

The Industry Veteran is back. He notes a piece I’d missed in which the oh-so-rational editorial board of the Wall Street Journal declared Part D to be a future political liability for their desire to drown the government in a bath-tub. And it’s all or mostly the fault of poor Hank McKinnell. The Veteran’s not too impressed with their analysis:

In its May 19 editorial, the Wall Street Journal bitch slapped Pfizer’s CEO, Hank McKinnell, for strongly advocating the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act (i.e., Part D) before the legislation passed and since.  In the week preceding the May 19 cuffing, McKinnell apparently did a panegyric for Medicare Part D in front of the Journal’s editorial board that the Goebbels Gang considered less than persuasive.  Before writing their Night of the Long Knives editorial, the Journal’s editors knew that McKinnell’s partisanship for Part D was more than mere flack work, sycophancy or a simple affirmation of sound, eighteenth century economics.  In his role as president of Big Pharma’s trade group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA), McKinnell was a driving force behind the Medicare Modernization Act.  Never more than six months behind the news, the Journal is finally reflecting some of the sotto voce criticism that McKinnell is receiving from within Pfizer itself.The Journal’s criticism of Medicare Part D and its advocates combines boilerplate, right wing economics with Monday morning political quarterbacking and crypto-fascist scare threats about single-payer health systems.  The patellar reflex economics faults Part D for contributing to the federal deficit.  In this respect the Journal aligns with Reaganite and other conservatives who label Bush a fraud for posing as a conservative when he is actually a big deficit spender who obtains Congressional acquiescence for his military Keynesianism by declining to veto porkbarrel legislation.  The Wall Street Journal’s reproval of Bush’s spending, however, is less credible than Claude Rains’s declaration of shock at learning that there is gambling at Rick’s Cafe.  Bush is only opposed to federal spending if it benefits the middle class and the poor.  He doesn’t have the slightest problem with a fiscal deficit policy as long as the spending benefits his cronies and benefactors who run multi-billion dollar corporations.  It is for this reason, rather than some fixation on 1960’s vocabulary, that I call George Bush a fascist.  In siding with the stopped-clock conservatives who favor a balanced budget, the Wall Street Journal’s editors merely seek a cloak of principle for their Hjalmar Schacht economics.The Journal’s Monday morning quarterbacking faults Republicans for thinking that the Medicare Modernization Act would turn Medicare from a Democratic into a Republican issue.  Instead the MMA gives Democrats a reason to call for constant improvements to the program that will require more federal spending.  In the Journal’s horror scenario, the out of control spending will lead to calls for Medicare to act as a single purchaser that can constrain costs.  The Journal holds some smelly socks and underwear between its thumb and forefinger to admonish thoughts of price constraint by claiming that the pharmaceutical industry will fail to discover new remedies if it can no longer gouge a cancer patient $300,000 a year for his medication.  (I mean, is this a great country or what?)  If a rejoinder to the Journal’s herring-stained fright-wig is necessary, it is the fact that the development of new molecular entities constitutes the sole reason for the existence and capital investment of branded pharma companies and biotechs.  The aging demographics of the developed world, and our commitment to health and longevity, virtually guarantee a fair return on this investment for a biopharmaceutical industry.  Not content with a fair rate of return, the Wall Street Journal, Hank McKinnell and George Bush take a unconscionable rate as their entitlement and that is where I want to see them bent, broken and humiliated.  Is Medicare Part D turning out badly?  If so, that’s good.  When it comes to George Bush and all his constituencies, worse is better.

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  1. What this sort of nonsense shows is the folly of Part D from a political perspective. For Republicans, no good deed goes unpunished because the Democrats use slash and burn politics to scare off their constituents, who thehy calim to care so much for, and be sure that people with R after their names get no political credit. Then, when they come to power they will renege on the price negotiation deal and seek to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. The WSJ was right. Leave these budget busters to the Democrats.
    The sad thing is the program is a boon for previously uncovered seniors, whose Rx out of pocket has been cut by 50%. And it may even reduce Part A and B costs, not to mention saving millions of seniors the agony of hospitalization, amputation, and premature demise. All of which matters not a whit to Democrats, who value seniors like the rest of their exploited constituents only for their votes, because all they care about, as Rahm Emmanuel personifies, is power and political victory.

  2. I am suffering from RCC with skeleton metastatis in stage 4. Only hope is your Sutent (Pfizer) according to Dr S H Advani of Jaslok hospital (Mumbai) and Dr Goswamy (Radio therapy oncologist). The case is very critical & serious and it is in stage 4.
    How to get Sutent in Bangalore for affordable price? Dr. Raj Kishore Jha, 23-A4 Gagan Apartment, 1-B Main Road, Atmananda Colony, Sultanpalya, R.T Nagar, Bangalore-560032, India

  3. Dr. Richard Platt of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, and Dr. Alexander Ommaya of the Institute of Medicine have pointed out in a recent article in the NEJM, a possible beneficial side effect of the Medicare drug benefit. The unintended effect could be the creation of the world’s most valuable resource for understanding how drugs are used and their risks and benefits. This resource would be created by linking information on drug dispensing to patient’s other health information, much like the Vaccine Safety Datalink of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the way the FDA makes some use of linked pharmacy and administrative records from health plans.
    Both doctors say that this data can transform our ability to assess drugs under real-life conditions, particularly in this vulnerable Medicare population, which is much under-represented in clinical trials. The FDA approves a drug for long-term use on the basis of minimal long-term safety data. Futhermore, the FDA rarely can compel manufacturers to conduct postapproval studies. The only means to keep tabs on drug safety is the reporting of adverse events to the FDA’s MedWatch program, which suffers from under-reporting, variable data quality, and the lack of a mechanism to assess confounding risk factors.
    The lack of systematic collection and analysis of post-clinical trial and -marketing data on the use of drugs and the outcomes of treatment has delayed the discovery of some serious problems until after millions of people have been exposed. Medicare data can offer a great opportunity to improve the ability to understand the balance of benefits and risks of drug treatment. In taking advantage of this opportunity, we can know much more about whether drugs are used as intended, whether they have their intended effects, and how risky they are.

  4. Not too sure about calling Bush a facist. Supporting Big Business is nothing new for Politicians, as we are a capitalistic society and they love to stick their hands in the cookie jar. Course, restraint is needed, which Bush has had a very tough time doing. But our economy is booming, inflation stable, low unemployment, all dispite natural disaters, high gas prices, unpopular expensive wars and more.
    I place the blame on Congress more than anything, and since the Republicans control it, it lays at their doorstep. They get everything they deserve in November. But as bad as the Republicans are with running our country, it scares me to think what Kerry/Gore/Clinton would do with political power.
    Somone once said, “Politicians are like diapers, they need to be changed often and for the same reason”. All hail term limits!!

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