"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Menendez and Stender Target New Jersey’s Pharmaceutical Firms

Linda Stender, running for congress in the 7th congressional district, has made an issue of the Medicare prescription drug benefit for seniors, blasting pharmaceutical companies for making a profit on the drugs sold through the taxpayer subsidized program. Bob Menendez, running for the Senate, tiptoes around “Big Pharma” and blasts the insurance companies, who offer seniors a wide choice of benefits under the new program.

Stender and Menendez are both mouthing the usual liberal line about “greedy” corporations making a profit at the expense of, fill in the blank with the appropriate victim group. In this case the “victims” are senior citizens who previously had no prescription drug coverage. Both candidates promise to change the Medicare program if elected. They completely overlook the ramifications of a less profitable pharmaceutical industry, not only for New Jersey, but for the entire country.

As TigerHawk recently wrote in his post – Memo to New Jersey voters: The Democrats will gun for pharma:

If you live in northern New Jersey, you know that the profitability of the pharmaceutical industry is the single most important driver of employment and income in your economy. Whether you are an executive at Merck in Whitehouse Station or a secretary at J&J in New Brunswick, you know this to be true. You also know that your industry invests in the drugs that save our lives or just make them worth living because the sales of those drugs can generate a rate of return that justifies the huge risk
That’s why Bob Menendez goes after the insurance companies in his rhetoric rather than the most important industry to New Jersey’s economy, drug companies. Linda Stender is just completely clueless, attacking the very people she wishes to represent in Congress. Not that the angle of attack matters, both support plans that would kill the goose that lays the golden egg. From today’s Washington Post:

One of the Democrats' election talking points is a promise to revamp the Medicare prescription drug benefit. They paint the 2003 legislation as a sellout to pharmaceutical firms: Rather than having Medicare officials use the government's bargaining power to keep drug prices down, the law left the job of negotiating prices to private insurers. The Medicare drug benefit has actually turned out to be cheaper than projected, and most beneficiaries say they are satisfied with it.

But the House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), nonetheless accuses Republicans of "putting pharmaceutical companies and HMOs first at the expense of America's seniors."
Democrats claim the Medicare drug plan is “inadequate” and are calling for an end to choice, larger taxpayer subsidizes and what amounts to government price setting for prescription drugs.

The Post suggests Democrats “would do better to invest their health-care energy elsewhere”:

The best way to make the difficult trade-off between affordable drugs and incentives for new research is not to stage a showdown in Gucci Gulch but rather to heed signals from consumers. The existing Medicare drug benefit may ultimately generate such signals. Retirees have a choice of insurance plans with wildly varying costs, and some are faced with decisions on how much to spend out of pocket. If they choose to pay top dollar for branded medicines, the incentives to invent new medicines will rise; if they prefer to save money, incentives for innovation will decline a bit. Either way, a balance will be struck that reflects broad social preferences.
Why take a chance on Democrats who clearly don’t understand economics and the importance of a profitable pharmaceutical industry in the United States? If Menendez and Stender, living in "America's Medicine Chest", haven’t figured it out by now, they never will. Vote for Tom Kean and Mike Ferguson, the life and job you save may be your own.




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