Last week, the House voted to require the government to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries. Although the vote was 255 to 170, with 24 Republicans joining 231 Democrats in approving the legislation, it could have been a much worse scenario if it were not for pharmaceutical lobbyists.
As reported in the Washington Post (“Drug Bill Demonstrates Lobby’s Pull“):
“Before taking control of the House last week, Democratic leaders briefly considered proposing a new government-run prescription drug program as a way to reduce seniors’ drug costs, according to Democratic aides and lawmakers involved in the deliberations.
“But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her allies chose a far less ambitious plan — to require the government to negotiate for lower Medicare drug prices — that will come to a vote today. They stepped back largely out of concern that the pharmaceutical industry would stall a complex change, denying them a quick victory on a top consumer-oriented priority, aides say.
“They had reason to be wary: Despite years of lopsidedly favoring GOP lawmakers with campaign cash and other benefits, the drug lobby continues to wield tremendous power in the Democratic-controlled Congress.”
“To strengthen their position, drug firms and their trade groups have been transforming their Washington operations by hiring top Democratic lobbyists to gain access to new committee chairmen, bolstering Democratic political donations and spending millions on public relations campaigns to overcome an image, indicated in recent surveys, that the industry puts profits ahead of patients.”
“Even longtime industry nemeses like Rep. Fortney ‘Pete’ Stark (D-Calif.), chairman of a House health panel, are impressed. ‘They’re pretty potent,’ he said this week.”
Potent indeed. I have done some research to determine who these pharmaceutical lobbyists are and have found that several of the male lobbyists may be moonlighting as Chippendales dancers!
Pharmaceutical companies have long had a penchant for hiring female cheerleaders as sales representatives (see “Sexy Reps Sell Rx” and “Introducing…the All-Pharma Cheerleading Squad!“). For lobbying efforts it seems male strippers are more favored by politicians these days.
The All-Pharma Lobbying Lineup!
With a tip of the hat to eDrugSearch Blog, I decided to do a quick scan of the Chippendales Web site to see who might be listed as pharmaceutical lobbyists. The following is my All-Pharma Lobbying Lineup — current Chippendales male dancers who I imagine double (and undoubtedly receive double takes) as pharmaceutical lobbyists:
Jordan D., a “Pfizer” lobbyist (shown on the left in the image above), really likes Dems, but his idol is Jack Abramoff (shown on the right), the former Republican lobbyist and convicted felon. Obviously, the Abramoff legacy lives on!
NOTE: In keeping with the pharmaceutical industry’s interest in improving its public image and wooing Democrats, pharma lobbyists only wear democratic WHITE hats, which convey a more positive message about their motives than do republican black hats.
Chaun W. (above) I imagine works for Allergan and Sepracor–two companies that really don’t give a crap when it comes to good marketing practices (see “Allergan Ignores Guidelines, Wins Award Anyway” and “Sepracor Sneaks In Lunesta Reminder Ad,” for example). Chaun’s pose in this photo appropriately telegraphs his employers’ message.
Drug companies spent more on lobbying than any other industry between 1998 and 2005 — $900 million, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
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