500 million dollar pork chop
Many will recall that the recent settlement in Congress which avoided the “fiscal cliff” was shown to be laden with pork – just like most everything else that comes out of Congress. One such pork chop went to Amgen, a biotech company.
Reporting for the New York Times, Eric Lipton and Kevin Sack show that buried deep within the bill (and belying the notion this was all done at the last minute) was a provision related to scheduled cuts in Medicare spending on pharmaceuticals. One such drug subject to such a reimbursement cut is a kidney dialysis drug manufactured by Amgen. Projected savings to the Medicare program was about $500 million over two years.
But with the help of the Senate Finance Committee, this drug avoided the cuts that befell most all other drugs. The Committee reasoned that the delay was necessary to allow regulators to prepare properly for the pricing change. (What in the world does this mean? Why is the pricing change on this drug so unique?).
As to the fine, Amgen recently pleaded guilty to illegally marketing another drug and agreed to pay criminal and civil penalties totaling $762 million. So the American taxpayers have graciously provided Amgen with about ⅔ of what they need to cover that cost. Perhaps this will help them continue to employee their 74 lobbyists.
Of course, the major item we surely don’t want disrupted are the bipartisan political contributions Amgen makes that have totaled over 5 million dollars since 2007.
You know that almost no one is on your side. Our utilization review staff, physician advisors and nurse case managers can’t always level the playing field but we can keep you in the game.