Shift in political climate puts pharmaceutical companies on the defense

Executives from two dozen drug companies met last month to assess what appears to them to be a harsh new political climate. In hopes of preventing Congress from letting the government negotiate lower drug prices for older Americans on Medicare, the pharmaceutical companies have been actively recruiting more Democratic lobbyists, lining up allies in the Bush administration and Congress, and renewing ties with organizations of patients who depend on brand-name drugs.

In its campaign contributions, pharmaceutical companies overwhelmingly favored Republicans over Democrats. Drug companies worked closely with Republicans to create the Medicare drug benefit, excluding Democrats. Democrats now plan to return the favor. Democrats want to investigate drug pricing and profits, drug advertising aimed at consumers, and the marketing of drugs to doctors for purposes not approved by the FDA . The interaction between drug companies, who have enjoyed prosperous years under the Republican-controlled Congress, and the new political climate will be interesting.

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