38 Senators–$13.4 mill pharma stock waive liability

The New York Times reported that Senator Bill Frist (Majority Leader) inserted this shield from legal liablity to his favorite industry "even if they are negligent or reckless."
FTCR: 38 Senators With Up to $13.4 Million in Pharmaceutical Stock Approve Drug Industry’s Sweetheart Deal
December 22,2005

To: National Desk
Contact: Carmen Balber, 310-392-0522 ext. 324 or Jamie Court, 310-392-0522
ext. 327, both of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Dec. 22 /U.S. Newswire/ — 38 U.S. Senators with up to
$13.4 million in pharmaceutical holdings increased the value of their stock
portfolios last night when they approved an amendment to the defense
appropriations bill that immunizes drug makers from accountability to the
public when they sell dangerous drugs and other products, according to the
Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR).

"When Senators can vote to harm the health and safety of the American public
and line their own pockets while they’re at it, the motive behind every vote
is in question. No Senator should be able to vote in his own financial
interests at the expense of the public," said Carmen Balber, consumer
advocate with the nonprofit, nonpartisan Foundation for Taxpayer and
Consumer Rights.

FTCR released an analysis of Senate personal financial disclosures last
week, revealing that 42 senators — 27 Republicans and 15 Democrats — held
pharmaceutical stock worth between $8.1 and $16 million in 2004. Senators
earned an additional $2.5 to $7.2 million in capital gains and dividends,
and two senators’ spouses also earned salaries from pharmaceuticals. View
the analysis: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/SenPharma.pdf

"The fact that Senators had the guts to block oil drilling in the Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge, but failed to eliminate this giveaway to the
pharmaceutical industry, shows this body is beholden to drug companies and
their personal stake in the industry’s profits," said Balber.

The 38 Senators with pharmaceutical stock that voted for the provision are:
Allen (R-Va.), Bayh (D-Ind.), Bingaman (D-N.M.), Bond (R-Mo.), Boxer
(D-Calif.), Brownback (R-Kan.), Burns (R-Mont.), Carper (D-Del.), Coburn
(R-Okla.), Cochran (R-Miss.), Conrad (D-N.D.), Crapo (R-Idaho), Dayton
(D-Minn.), DeWine (R-Ohio), Dole (R-N.C.), Ensign (R-Nev.), Feinstein
(D-Calif.), Frist (R-Tenn.), Hatch (R-Utah), Hutchison (R-Texas), Inhofe
(R-Okla.), Isakson (R-Ga.), Kerry (D-Mass.), Kyl (R-Ariz.), Landrieu
(D-La.), Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Levin (D-Mich.), Lieberman (D-Conn.), Lott
(R-Miss.), Reed (D-R.I.), Reid (D-Nev.), Roberts (R-Kan.), Stevens
(R-Alaska), Sununu (R-N.H.), Talent (R-Mo.), Vitter (R-La.), Voinovich
(R-Ohio) and Warner (R-Va.). Four Senators with pharmaceutical holdings did
not vote.

The provision grants immunity to drug companies for any vaccine or product,
classified by the Bush Administration as necessary to respond to a public
health threat, when patients are harmed by dangerous drugs. Its broad
language will protect any product considered a "countermeasure," not just
vaccines or drugs needed to respond to health emergencies.

Sen. Bill Frist added the provision to the defense conference report,
approved by the House of Representatives on Sunday, after conferees had
signed what they were told was the final product. Nine members of the Senate
conference committee hold pharmaceutical stock.

Sen. Frist’s blind trust included stock in drug companies Abbott
Laboratories and Johnson & Johnson through 2004, each worth $15,000 to
$50,000 when the trust was created. Frist also reported holdings in
Orthodontic Supply Inc. worth between $1,001 and $15,000.

Congressional leaders tried to provide similar protection to the makers of
the vaccine additive Thimerosal in 2002 with an amendment to a Homeland
Security bill based on legislation Frist carried. Public backlash forced the
Senate to remove the immunity provision.