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Pharma To Republicans - Time To Pay Up Again

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Message Evelyn Pringle
Pharma To Republicans - Time To Pay Up Again

The generation of children injured by vaccines containing the mercury-based preservative thimerosal is now reaching puberty. Many of these children will require life-long care and support. The cost to their parents by today's standards, will reportedly exceed $2 million dollars for each child.

An ever-growing number of health care professionals point to thimerosal as the culprit behind the explosion in cases of autism and other neurological disorders. The only common thread connecting these damaged children to one another is their exposure to mercury through childhood immunizations.

Accountability from vaccine makers is something that parents of injured children have been seeking for years; but accountability appears more illusive with each year's passage. On October 27 2005, the Hartford Courant reported that "Congress is considering a bill that would allow the government to order that vaccines be given to every U.S. citizen in a national emergency, even if a vaccine has previously harmed some people."

The Biodefense and Pandemic Vaccine and Drug Development Act of 2005 (S 1873), is being pushed through Congress without giving voters the chance to make their objections known to their elected officials.

Nicknamed "Bioshield Two," the bill's primary sponsor, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), claims the Act will give the Department of Health and Human Services "additional authority and resources to partner with the private sector to rapidly develop drugs and vaccines."

Co-sponsored by Senators Bill Frist (R-TN), Mike Enzi (R-WY), and Judd Gregg (R-NH), the Act will in truth, eliminate current regulatory and legal safeguards applied to vaccines.

What kind of profits need protecting? A good example is GlaxoSmithKline, which predicts that some of its new vaccines will become blockbusters with projected sales of more than $1 billion a year, according to Reuters on June 30, 2005. Glaxo aims to launch five major vaccines by 2010, it said.

Another example, for people who believe there’s no profit in vaccine making, “tell it to Wyeth, a big drug maker whose vaccine Prevnar ... costs more than $250 for the four-dose treatment given to infants,” says Kristine Severyn, PhD, author of the report, Profits, Not Science, Motivate Vaccine Mandates Vaccine Policy Institute.

Despite the price, "the government has recommended that all infants get the vaccine, and insurers generally pay for it - as does the federal Vaccines for Children program for low-income families. Prevnar, with sales expected to top $1 billion this year," says Severyn.

Severyn's predictions were right on. According to Wyeth's 2005 first quarter earnings report, Prevnar achieved net revenue of $391 million, more than double the first quarter earnings in 2004.

Bush’s FY2006 budget proposes to improve access to vaccines by allowing underinsured children to receive Vaccines for Children at state and local health clinics. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that cost of the proposal will be $140 million in 2006, and $700 million over the 2006-2010 period.

How much does this sort of government protection cost? For starters, according to the Center for Public Integrity, the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), is the industry's trade organization and it has topped the list of pharmaceutical lobbying spending since 1998, shelling out $74 million. Its members include 16 of the industry's 20 largest companies and their subsidiaries and its current president is Billy Tauzin, is a former Republican congressman from Louisiana.

In the 2002 election cycle, PhRMA gave $3,505,052 with 95% going to Republicans. The top recipient in the Senate was none other than Senator Richard Burr, who received $288,684, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. So far in the 2006 cycle, Gregg has received over $106,000 and Enzi has taken in $21,000 in pharma money.

Frist is a real piece of work. He has been trying to get a law passed to protect the drug companies for years. In 2002, he was behind the dead of night insertion of a provision into the Homeland Security bill that would have immunized vaccine makers from lawsuits related to thimerosal.

Frist has made millions upon millions profiting off human misery. The basis of the family fortune is the Hospital Corporation of America, the largest for-profit hospital conglomerate in the nation. However, the corporation also paid the largest health care settlement in history of more than $1.7 billion in civil and criminal penalties to settle charges of massive Medicare and Medicaid billing fraud.

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Evelyn Pringle is a columnist for OpEd News and investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption in government and corporate America.
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