Last Year, It Was Tobacco, This Year It’s “Big, Bad Pharmaceuticals”
May 7, 2002
AARP has joined the pharmaceutical litigation bandwagon purportedly “to help its 35 million members gain access to lower cost prescription drugs.” This is a commendable objective with which everyone agrees: Seniors should not have to decide between buying food and buying drugs their doctors prescribe, but the AARP’s proposed lawsuits obfuscate the basic fact the legislation designed to promote lower cost generic drugs is already working.
The 1984 Hatch-Waxman legislation has created a thriving generic drug industry. The market share of prescription drugs has increased from 19% in 1983 to almost 50% and growing today. The vast majority of generic applications filed under Hatch-Waxman, over 8,000, representing 94%, have raised no patent issues. So, if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it.
Pharmaceutical costs have increased because there are more “miracle” drugs which doctors prescribe that enable seniors to live longer and better and stay out of hospitals. And how does AARP think that these life-saving and life-prolonging drugs appear? Out of a magicians hat? Who does AARP think does pharmaceutical research which has grown from under $4 Billion in 1984 to $30 Billion in 2001? The answer is, of course, brand name drugs. The truth is that we need both brand name and generic drugs and Hatch-Waxman works to provide both.
Other factors that AARP seems to ignore for their self interests are considerations that while generics work well for many people, some of them deliver very unpleasant side effects as their originals whereas newer and “cleaner” drugs have more tolerable side effects.
60 Plus is a 10-year-old nonpartisan group with a less government, less taxes approach to seniors’ issues. 60 Plus is supported by donations from its more than 500,000 citizen lobbyists to print and mail millions of letters, petitions, and voting indexes. 60 Plus publishes a newsletter, SENIOR VOICE, and a SCORECARD, bestowing a GUARDIAN OF SENIORS’ RIGHTS award on lawmakers in both parties who vote “pro-senior.” 60 Plus also presents a BENJAMIN FRANKLIN award to those who support death tax repeal as well as a LEGISLATOR OF THE MONTH award to the most pro-active friends of seniors in Congress. 60 Plus has been called ‘an increasingly influential lobbying group for the elderly.’
The AARP involvement in the so-called Prescription Access Litigation Project raises real questions about AARP’s motives. Is it to divert attention from their many for-profit insurance enterprises; or the $80 million annually they receive from the federal largesse, your taxpayer money and mine?
It’s a shame that AARP in its glutinous bureaucracy can’t provide better service to its members than revenue enhancement to wealthy lawyers who are really nothing more than “ambulance chasers.”