Pfizer Inc. (PFE) and Merck & Co. (MRK) are being pulled into an expanding congressional investigation into the agreement drugmakers reached with the Obama administration to support the Democrats’ overhaul of the U.S. health-care system, according to three people familiar with the talks.
The probe began last year, with Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee seeking documents from an industry trade group, said the people, who aren’t authorized to speak publicly. When that group didn’t cooperate, the panel decided to target Pfizer, the world’s biggest drugmaker, along with Merck, Amgen Inc. (AMGN), Abbott Laboratories (ABT) andAstraZeneca Plc (AZN), said one of the people.
The Republicans last month began negotiating directly with the companies in e-mails, calls and meetings demanding documents and information outlining what the industry agreed to with President Barack Obama in 2009 and 2010, when the law was being worked on in Congress. Michael Burgess, a Representative from Texas, said he’s been frustrated by a lack of cooperation.
“This has been like pulling teeth, trying to get information,” said Burgess, a Republican working on the panel’s investigation, in a telephone interview.Not surprisingly, Big Pharma (who used to be the villain for Democrats) are splitting their contributions almost evenly between the parties this time. I understand why Big Pharma decided to make a deal with the White House; they figured out that they would be better off if they had some influence on how Obamacare treated them. Big Business often does the corrupting of Big Government, but the knowledge that Big Government has the power sometimes does the corrupting of Big Business. We need to know what the deal was--not just the open, publicly stated part of the deal that Big Pharma got from Obamacare, but what was said behind closed doors.
"When legislatures control what is bought and sold, the first thing to be bought and sold will be legislators."