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Bill needed support sooner

President George W. Bush announced Monday during a White House ceremony that he supports a new bill that will help to eliminate litigation loopholes for pharmaceutical companies wishing to create generic forms of popular drugs. The level of concern raised by the Bush administration over the proposal of a similar bill has gone out the door, and it seems evident that Bush is using this to help Republicans in the upcoming elections. If so, he has done all Americans a disservice by not supporting it earlier.

The new proposal is only minutely different from the one proposed earlier this year by Senators Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and John McCain, R-Ariz. Essentially, the proposal states that drug companies are allowed only one 30-month patent extension in which to challenge a generic version of their drug from becoming available. Currently, drug companies can get multiple extensions and tie up generic availability for years. The proposal will close those loopholes in the law and reportedly save consumers $3 billion a year.

The original Schumer-McCain bill was passed in the Senate, but the pharmaceutical industry intervened, and it was never heard in the Republican-controlled House, according to an article in the St. Petersburg Times. It seems interesting that President Bush would support the bill six months later and just before the 2002 Congressional elections. It’s also interesting to note that he emphasized the benefit to seniors, especially because his brother, Jeb Bush, is up for re-election in just a few short weeks in a state where such a bill would greatly influence that significant sect of the voting population.

If President Bush refrained from supporting this bill when it was initially proposed just to keep a trump card in his hand, then it’s a sad day for this country. All consumers and senior citizens could be enjoying the fruits of this legislation right now, if not for the selfishness of Republicans in Congress and in the White House.