Though I've traded AMGN in the past, I don't have a position in it now. As a taxpayer it angers me to read that AMGN and likely other drug companies have done things that could be considered stealing. I can imagine the anger of cancer survivors who took drugs that didn't help, possibly hurt, and may have stolen time from patients. Maybe we need to establish a system of Medicare and Medicaid negotiating (discounted) drug prices, as the V.A. does.
A recent article in The New York Times reported on a cost-control exception provided to Amgen, the world’s largest biotechnology firm. According to the report, the sweetheart deal — hidden in the Senate’s final “fiscal cliff” bill — will cost taxpayers half a billion dollars. Bill talks to U.S. Representative Peter Welch (D-VT) about the bi-partisan bill he recently sponsored to repeal that giveaway, and the political factors that allow such crony capitalism to occur.
“When there is this back room dealing that comes at enormous expense to taxpayers and enormous benefit to a private, well-connected, for-profit company, we’ve got to call it out,” Welch tells Bill. “Those members of Congress who are concerned about the institution, about our lack of credibility, about the necessity of us doing things that are in the public good as opposed to private gain, we’ve got to call it out.”
The original article is misleading. Sensipar is not a dialysis or anemia drug, it treats hyperparathyroidism (elevated level of parathyroid hormone secretion) and hypercalcemia (too much calcium in the blood). These conditions are most commonly a result of the factors that cause severe kidney damage or are side effects of dialysis. Sensipar is administered only when hyperparathyroidism or hypercalcemia is diagnosed, not as a preventive measure. Other treatment options include surgical removal of the parathyroid gland; which is much more expensive than taking Sensipar for 2 years. It doesn't make sense for this drug to be bundled into dialysis treatment because it doesn't affect the majority of dialysis patients.
The article also inflates the likely impact of the clause. Total Sensipar sales are less than $1B per year. It is unlikely that sales would drop by more than 25% per year without the exception.