H.R. 8, the bill that averted the fiscal cliff, included a section that granted the drug company Amgen a two-year delay in regulations of its drugs, even though Amgen recently pleaded guilty in a federal fraud case.
The bill will give Amgen two years to sell Sensipar without government price regulations, which means hundreds of millions of dollars in profit for Amgen.
Sensipar is an expensive prescription drug used by kidney dialysis patients. It is projected to cost Medicare up to $500 million over the next two-year period, since the legislation delays Medicare price restraints of End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) drugs, reports the New York Times.
The bill does not specify Amgen by name, but it mainly affects the sale of Sensipar, costing the government hundreds of millions while allowing Amgen to keep its prices unregulated.
Amgen employs 74 lobbyists and was the only company to lobby for this delay, Congressional aides told the New York Times.
Dennis J. Cotter, a health policy researcher said: "That is why we are in the trouble we are in. Everybody is carving out their own turf and getting it protected, and we pass the bill on to the taxpayer.”
The U.S. Government Accountability Office published a report last month that showed a 23 percent decrease in use of ESRD drugs from 2007 to 2011, but Medicare is forced to pay a bundle rate for the drugs, based on the 2007 usage levels, which was $650 million to $880 million more than it needed.