NY Times Blows The Whistle On Drug Industry's Dirty Tricks
November 26, 2009
As a sobering example of how members of Congress can be spoon-fed the views and even the exact words of high-powered lobbying firms, consider remarks inserted into the Congressional Record after the debate and vote on health care reform in the House.
Statements by more than a dozen lawmakers were ghostwritten, in whole or in part, by Washington lobbyists working for Genentech, one of the world’s largest biotechnology companies.
E-mail messages obtained by The New York Times show that the lobbyists drafted one statement for Democrats and another for Republicans.
The lobbyists, employed by Genentech and by two Washington law firms, were remarkably successful in getting the statements printed in the Congressional Record under the names of different members of Congress.
The apparent goal was to show that, even though there were sharp divisions between the parties on the overall reform bill (only one Republican voted for it), there was bipartisan support for provisions relating to drugs produced by the biotechnology industry. One provision, for example, would allow generic competition to expensive biological drugs but only after the original manufacturer had enjoyed 12 years of exclusive use, a generous period by anyone’s standards.
Asked about the Congressional statements, a lobbyist close to Genentech said: “This happens all the time. There was nothing nefarious about it.”