Tuesday, December 18, 2012

How Can A Bill About Asthma Inhalers Become Controversial In Congress? Here's How


Michael Burgess (R-TX), a couple of other corporate whores from his state (Oily Joe Barton and John Carter), plus Joe Pitts and 2 of Congress' most corrupt Blue Dogs (Matheson and Ross) introduced and passed something called the Asthma Inhalers Relief Act of 2012 (H.R. 6190). Sounds like the kind of thing that would sail through Congress 398-1, with only some sociopath like Louie Gohmert voting no, right? Actually, the bill's name is deceptive-- and the roll call was disjointed. It needed a two-thirds majority to pass and it only got 229 votes (with 182 opposed), so it failed. Before we get into what this bill actually was all about, keep in mind that 31 Democrats voted with the GOP on this and nearly an equal number of Republicans, 29, crossed the aisle in the other direction. Most, though not all, of the Democrats voting with the GOP were the usual suspects, Blue Dog scum like McIntyre, Cuellar, Altmire, Barrow, Matheson, Kissell, Boren, Shuler, Costa, Peterson, Donnelly... all the worst trash in the Democratic caucus, with a sprinkling of New Dems sniffing out a new source of potential bribes-- Crowley, Peters, Engel, Richmond... But there were some decent, principled Democrats in the mix as well, Mike Capuano, Tim Ryan, Frank Pascrell, John Larson. On the GOP side, the ones who abandoned leadership were mostly the relatively mainstream types on the one hand and the rebels who detest Boehner and Cantor on the other. This is the official House summary of Burgess' bill:
Asthma Inhalers Relief Act of 2012-- Directs the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to: (1) permit the distribution, sale, and consumption in the United States of remaining inventories of CFC epinephrine inhalers manufactured pursuant to the exception for medical devices under the Clean Air Act; (2) not take any enforcement action or otherwise seek to restrict the distribution, sale, or consumption of such inhalers on the basis of any federal law implementing the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer; and (3) issue, in response to a request of any distributor or seller of such inhalers, a No Action Assurance Letter stating that the EPA will not initiate an enforcement action relating to the distribution or sale of any such inhaler occurring prior to August 1, 2013.

Defines "CFC epinephrine inhaler" to mean any epinephrine inhaler containing chlorofluorocarbons that was manufactured and classified as over-the-counter before January 1, 2012.

Terminates this Act on August 1, 2013.
Burgess, a doctor, stood up on the floor whining that "I've been an asthmatic my entire life," but failed to persuade enough of his colleagues that his bill had merit. The problem with the bill is that it allows chlorofluorocarbons, which is deadly for the ozone layer and has been banned in this country and worldwide, to continue to be sold in one specific product, a product that also contains the controversial hormone, epinephrine. Burgess' bill allows for the sale of stockpiled Primatene Mist (made by Armstrong Pharmaceuticals), which is otherwise banned as of January 1.

Henry Waxman, ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee: "This is a bill that is special for one company in order for it to sell off the batches of the Primatene Mist that it has on stock. This is a product that's not on the market now-- it was taken off the market-- and there are substitutes on the market that the public health and medical groups say are far better and are far safer."

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At 12:08 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Interesting! My elderly aunt, who had depended on these inhalers for years as an inexpensive treatment for her COPD, went downhill rapidly when they were no longer available, and the chain of events put her into the hospital and now into a nursing home, probably permanently. Two months ago someone finally prescribed an alternate rescue inhaler which actually works for her. CFCs or not, the pharm companies haven't handled this well.

At 10:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Asthma meds, including albuterol inhalers and combination inhalers such as Advair, are among the most expensive frequently-prescribed medications. For those suffering with asthma or COPD, these drugs are literally life-saving. And the fucking ghouls of Big PhRMA know it.

Advair can cost up to $240 for one month's inhaler.

Albuterol inhalers, used for quick rescue during an asthma attack, were available as generics until the Clean Air regulations set in. Now, because there's a new formulation in the propellent -- not the drug itself -- there's a whole new patent and a whole new price and no generics until the patent expires. We didn't see any drug ghouls arguing for exceptions in the law then, did we?

In fact, the new propellent is far less effective and many patients report needing to puff twice as much to get the same dose -- another boon that sells more overpriced product to a literally captive market.

Despite pleas from consumers, no exceptions to the law were allowed for the old generic inhalers.

Yes, you see -- the use of individual CFC asthma inhalers by a bunch of sick people is so detrimental to the global climate that it's just tough titty on you suckers. You'll have to pay through the nose.

But we can't even begin to contemplate cracking down on fracking, or instituting some tough mileage standards, or taxing fossil fuels, or anything else that might upset the streams of profit for the planet murderers and death merchants that own our government.

There is no compromise with people who basically don't give a fuck about anybody but themselves and their profits. The only remedy is to crush them completely.


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