MEDICARE Rx: Drug Company ‘Assault’ Will Continue
Although pharmaceutical companies have asked the White House for a cease-fire over the contentious issue of drug coverage for Medicare beneficiaries, internal documents suggest they "have every intention of continuing their assault." The Newark Star-Ledger reports that the drug firms may have "deceptively" softened their public stance on drug coverage, to avoid being criticized by President Clinton in his State of the Union address Thursday. The documents, which suggest the companies may be renewing their assault on the president's drug proposal, included a calendar of upcoming events, such as grassroots mail campaigns, television ads and media tours in states that border Canada, where drugs are cheaper. The documents, according to Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), "raise questions about the industry's new commitment to helping seniors obtain affordable drugs." In a letter to Congress last Friday, Waxman wrote, "Many of the activities seem designed to reduce -- not build -- support for prescription drug coverage. ... These internal documents seem to indicate (the drug industry trade group's) cynical campaign to mislead and scare seniors will continue" (Silverman, 1/27). In a series of negative advertisements geared toward derailing a Medicare prescription drug plan, drugmakers last year attacked the proposal featuring an arthritic Medicare patient named "Flo." The industry was previously against the plan because of fears that the federal government would set drug prices (American Health Line, 1/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.