American politics at work

January 20, 2013

You can’t have an effective economic system without a reasonably effective political system. We like to complain about ours — it’s good sport, really — but in truth we have one of the more effective ones. (Compare the Philippines.) Still, you sometimes run across things that make you wonder. I can’t vouch for the details, but this piece in the Times got my attention:

Amgen, the world’s largest biotechnology firm, scored a largely unnoticed coup on Capitol Hill: Lawmakers inserted a paragraph into the “fiscal cliff” bill that …  strongly favored one of its drugs. The [bill] … delays a set of Medicare price restraints on a class of drugs that includes [Amgen drug] Sensipar. … Amgen … has a small army of 74 lobbyists in the capital.

To be fair, I don’t know the lobbying business. And Amgen had revenues of 15b last year, so spending a few million on lobbying doesn’t seem out of line. But it makes you wonder how policy is made in the healthcare sector, one of the largest in the US economy.

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