Health Care: Is Obama Taking on the Biotech Industry?

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A while back, Michael Scherer and I wrote this story about how the biotech industry has been one of the big winners in the health care debate.

Maybe not so much, it now appears. The New York Times reports that President Obama may be making a last stand to bring lower-cost generic biologics to market more quickly:

President Obama is pushing for a last-minute change in the final health care bill that would shorten the time that expensive biotechnology drugs would be shielded from generic competition, pharmaceutical industry officials said Thursday.

Any White House intervention would be welcome news to generic pharmaceutical companies, as well as to some consumer groups, insurers and big employers, which have complained that the proposed House and Senate bills would not allow for robust competition.

The rumored proposal to give the industry up to a decade’s worth of additional protection beyond their patents would still be significantly more than the seven years that Obama originally sought, the five years that House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman wanted, or the Federal Trade Commission’s recommendations, which was … zero. So you could argue that’s still a pretty good return on investment for the $609,000 a day that the industry has been spending to lobby this bill.

The NYT reports:

One thing that is certain is that lobbying will now intensify. The generic industry and others interested in a shorter exclusivity period have started a last-minute television, radio and print advertising campaign complaining that 12 years is a “sweetheart deal’’ for the brand-name pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

Mr. Greenwood said his trade group is putting out the word for biotechnology companies to call their representatives and demand the existing language be maintained.

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