Yesterday in Congress, two bills were proposed, both by Representative Bob Dold, which would remove import fees for two pharmaceuticals products:
H.R. 5357. A bill to suspend temporarily the duty on placebos to be used in clinical trials for the drug ASP2408; to the Committee on Ways and Means.
H.R. 5358. A bill to suspend temporarily the duty on placebos to be used in clinical trials for the drug ASP0777; to the Committee on Ways and Means.
See what these two pharmaceuticals products have in common? They’re both placebos. A placebo is a fake medication. A medication that does not work at all, having no significant somatic medical effect at all.
Why on earth is there a need for the United States of America to import placebos?
Placebos are important, certainly. Sometimes, they bring about a degree of healing simply through psychological trickery. Sometimes, as in the case of the placebos that are going to be used to complement the drugs ASP2408 and ASP0777 in clinical trials, it’s necessary to have placebos as experimental controls on a tested experiment.
That said, placebos aren’t difficult to manufacture. Most commonly, they’re simple sugar pills. Placebos are made out of easily available materials, and are put into standard forms. They can be made here in the United States?
So why would Congressman Bob Dold introduce a bill encouraging the foreign manufacture of placebos? Why create an economic incentive for placebos to be produced overseas, without the creation of jobs in the United States?
It turns out that there’s something more that ASP2408 and ASP0777 share in common. ASP2408 and ASP0777 are medications being put through trials Perseid Therapeutics LLC and Astellas Pharma Inc, respectively. Perseid Therapeutics isn’t really an independent company, though. It was bought by Astellas two years ago.
It just so happens that, in all the House of Representatives, Congressman Bob Dold is the top recipient of money from the Astellas US political action committee in the 2012 election cycle so far. What’s more, the financial contributions to Bob Dold in the current election cycle are not the first gifts of money that Congressman Dold has taken from the Astellas PAC.
Is it a coincidence that Bob Dold, out of the blue, has taken it upon himself to write legislation creating a special profitable loophole just for Astellas Pharma US, Incorporated? No one can be certain, but it sure doesn’t look that way. It looks like corruption.
The issue matters because the U.S. Congress right now is debating measures that would create significant cuts in programs that help working Americans. These cuts are taking place because of a lack of adequate government revenue. With H.R. 5357 and H.R. 5358, Bob Dold is seeking to reduce government revenue streams even further, and to do so for a scheme that reduces incentives to create American jobs in order to help a foreign corporation.
The truth is that Astellas Pharma US Inc. is just a subsidiary of a Japanese corporation, headquartered in Tokyo. That corporation uses the name Astellas in the United States because it sounds less foreign than the corporation’s actual name: Asuterasu Seiyaku Kabushiki-gaisha.
If Asuterasu Seiyaku Kabushiki-gaisha wants to come to the United States and have its medications approved for use here, that’s fine, but they ought to do so with the understanding that they’ll be expected to contribute to the American economy by using American-made products. If Asuterasu Seiyaku Kabushiki-gaisha doesn’t want to use made-in-the-USA products, that’s fine too, but only if it’s willing to play by the rules, and pay the usual import fees.
Asuterasu Seiyaku Kabushiki-gaisha doesn’t want to play by the rules we have here in America, it seems. It doesn’t want to help create jobs in the USA. Instead, it expects to be able to make some payments to a U.S. Congressman, who will introduce legislation to help them evade American manufacturing.
Bob Dold is willing to play along with this game, taking a bit of money to help his own political ambitions in exchange for selling out American workers. He ought to be ashamed of himself.