The Reverend Falwell then attacks Alcor, which he again confuses with LEF:
“That is only the beginning, however. LEF also conducts bizarre cryogenics experiments. They are reported to have the body of baseball slugger Ted Williams frozen for eventual reanimation. The president of the organization, Saul Kent, likewise froze his mother’s severed head, prompting a three-year investigation into the possibility that she was euthanized.”
Saul Kent is not the President of Alcor. The Life Extension Foundation did not freeze Ted Williams’ body. Saul Kent also did not kill his mother. None of this, of course, has anything to do with the artificially inflated prices Americans pay for their drugs. Nor does it have any relationship to the fact that identical drugs can be purchased for far less money from other countries. But again, facts and relevance mean nothing to Falwell, who argues that Americans should not be allowed to purchase lower-cost medications from Canada, Europe, and other countries, even though they have regulatory standards comparable to those of the United States.
Falwell’s final mudslinging against LEF is as follows:
“And they traffic in untold numbers of questionable ‘life-extending’ medications that are the subject of numerous federal investigations — raising a significant question about their motivations for advocating drug importation.”
The drug bill that Falwell is attacking would legalize the importation of FDA-approved prescription drugs only, not “questionable life extension medications,” as Falwell erroneously asserts.
Falwell’s statement that we are “the subject of numerous federal investigations” was news to us. That was until an FDA inspector showed up at our door eight days after Falwell’s editorial was published. The FDA inspector commenced an intensive five-day dissection of our operations. As you will read in an article by Saul Kent that appears later in this issue, we believe the drug industry may be behind the FDA’s sudden interest in Life Extension. Our attorneys have filed a Freedom of Information Act request to determine if a drug lobbyist urged the FDA to initiate this inspection. The drug cartel views The Life Extension Foundation as a threat to their profits. Drug companies routinely hire lobbyists to persuade the FDA to go after those who are a challenge to their multi-billion dollar annual earnings.
Long-time members know that Life Extension fought an 11-year battle with the FDA, which we won in 1996. Life Extension is currently supporting numerous First Amendment actions against the FDA that seek to force the agency to recognize health claims such as “omega-3 fatty acids may reducethe risk of coronary artery disease.”
Who Is Behind These Attacks?
Life Extension members may wonder how Jerry Falwell could have written such an erroneous editorial and why The Washington Times would publish it. We think the answer lies in the massive lobbying campaign the pharmaceutical industry launched to stop the Pharmaceutical Market Access Act of 2003 from passing Congress.
According to Public Citizen’s Congress Watch (a non-profit group founded by Ralph Nader), the drug industry hired 675 lobbyists from 138 firms last year. Since 1997, the drug industry has spent a whopping $650 million lobbying Congress, which includes hiring academics and funding non-profit organizations that support their causes. According to the June 23, 2003 Wall Street Journal, one of the drug industry’s biggest issues is barring imports of lower-cost medications from other countries.
An example of drug company influence can be seen in the lobbying efforts of a religious group (other than Falwell’s) that is attacking members of Congress who support the drug importation bill. This coalition represents some 43,000 churches and has distributed letters urging lawmakers to oppose the Pharmaceutical Market Access Act of 2003. It turns out the letters, written on this religious coalition’s letterhead, were drafted by an attorney representing the drug industry.
The Washington Post (not The Washington Times) has been investigating drug company influence using non-profit organizations to front for their cause. Documents provided to The Post reveal the key role that drug lobbyists played in sending letters out to the constituents of members of Congress who support this bill. Representative Dan Burton and several other conservatives are blaming the drug companies for the dirty mail campaign to discredit the bill. The Washington Post quoted Representative Burton as follows:
“I do not understand . . . how a religious organization can be manipulated by the pharmaceutical industry to do this sort of thing. They are supposed to be moral people. And yet I am confident, in fact I am dead sure, that the Traditional Values Coalition did not have the money to mail this kind of trash out to congressional districts all across the country.”
Why Drug Companies Want to Discredit Life Extension
Life Extension’s drug price comparison charts have been enlarged and presented before Congress as evidence that Americans are overpaying for medications they need to stay alive. Since drug companies cannot argue against the irrefutable fact that identical drugs cost more in the United States than in other countries, they have made a concerted effort to paint the bearer of this information (The Life Extension Foundation) in a negative light.
As you will read later in this issue, the good news is that despite this intensive drug company lobbying campaign, the Pharmaceutical Market Access Act of 2003 passed in the House of Representatives. It now has to be voted on in the Senate. If the bill becomes law, the savings to Americans will be so substantial that today’s health care cost crisis will be substantially mitigated.
The Life Extension Foundation is the only organization that has investigated, calculated, and published exactly what the active ingredients in prescription drugs actually cost (see chart on next page). This information reveals that if Americans could freely import their medications from other countries, the cost of some $300 prescription drugs could drop to under $10.
UPDATED DRUG PRICE COMPARISON CHART
What drugs cost in Europe compared to the United States. Prices vary depending on the European country. Some of these drugs now have generic equivalents in the United States. These U.S. generics are still much more expensive than their European counterparts.