Senator Ted Kennedy is at it again. He has proposed a Senate bill that would grant exclusivity to pharmaceutical company Amgen, and a few others, for the making of certain biologic drugs, which are drugs made from living human cells. Obama has proposed granting this exclusivity for seven years. Some in the Senate favor five years. Kennedy, in his bill, has proposed a whopping thirteen years. In what seems to be an obvious quid pro quo, Amgen has agreed to make a remarkably generous donation to a proposed Kennedy Institute in the Senator's honor, to be constructed at some point as an annex to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. So have a number of other pharmaceutical companies and research centers, all of whom have benefited from Kennedy's influence over the years in the way of funding.
Yet, what would this proposed Kennedy Institute involve? Is it yet another research facility, a glorified health care lobbyist or think tank? No, it's not that relatively benign. Its proposed purpose is, in fact, as a "training ground for incoming Senators." There will also be a program of mock Senate sessions, and a theater which will feature film clips of past Senate speeches. This is what Amgen has donated five million dollars to, while many others have donated similar amounts.
And what do they get in return to this monument to Kennedy's ego? They get thirteen years of a guaranteed monopoly on the creation, production, sale and distribution of biologic pharmaceuticals, which guarantees the elimination of any competition, especially from any possible generic products.
Does somebody want to explain to me again just how it is the Democratic Party is the stalwart opponent of the excesses of big business? They are encouraging the protection of a monopoly at the expense of free enterprise. As a result, if this bill is passed, you can not only expect any such drug produced by these companies to be priced higher than it should be by all rights, you can even more certainly expect limits on the quality of these drugs, the best of which might well be shelved, after they are patented in order to prevent any potential competitor from producing a similar product. Will they produce cures? Possibly, in some cases, but at what cost? More than likely, the bulk of the output will be limited to merely more efficient means of treating symptoms.
All so Ted Kennedy can have an Institute named in his honor, the main purpose of which, other than as an outlet to Kennedy's hubris, would seem to be that of making sure in-coming Democratic Senators know their places and tow the party line, under the guise of orientation. Think of it as a kind of kindergarten for newly-elected Democratic Senators. I guess Republicans, if they should want to attend for whatever reason only the gods could hope to comprehend, can do so as well. Maybe they should construct a secret underground section that leads to a hidden tidal pond for the disposal of the more incorrigible, the out-of place conservative Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats.
The Sherman Anti-Trust Act was originally passed to prevent the creation of monopolies, and the unfair trade and business practices that would entail. It was meant to promote free enterprise and competition. Kennedy and his ilk have turned that principle on its head, by selling indulgences in the form of exclusivity.
The next thing you know they're going to be selling large corporations the right to pollute so they can make sure their smaller competitors are run out business.
Oh, wait a minute.