A move to open up competition in drugs wold have been one of the few things in Obamacare worth having. It was not to be as big pharma bought off Obama and Democratic senators to keep it from happening.

An amendment to open up competition in drug pricing was narrowly defeated in the Senate Vote-a-Rama last night, but that defeat was not binding by any means.

More importantly, Trump’s Drug-Price Stance Puts Pharma on Notice.

President-elect Donald Trump’s fiery stance on drug prices is putting pressure on pharmaceutical companies that may be designed to bring their support for his planned overhaul of the nation’s health-care system.

Hours after Trump upended pharmaceutical stocks Wednesday with a pledge to force drugmakers to bid for government business, the U.S. Senate narrowly rejected a proposal to allow importation of cheaper prescription drugs from Canada. While votes on most amendments to the budget resolution went along party lines Wednesday night and Thursday morning, 12 Republicans supported the drug-import measure, with 13 Democrats opposed.

Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to Trump, said the president-elect wants Democrats to be involved in drug-cost legislation, which she linked to a broader push to repeal the ACA.

“To repeal and replace Obamacare and not have a conversation about drug pricing seems not like a reasonable prospect,” she said Thursday in an interview on Bloomberg Television.

Representatives of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the Washington drug lobby, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Members of both parties have been laying the groundwork for bills that could go after the drug industry, including measures to force drugmakers to report any price increase of more than 10 percent and to stop deals that brand pharmaceutical companies make with their generic counterparts to keep low-cost copies off the market.

The importation measure, proposed by senators Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, and Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, was meant to give Americans access to cheaper drugs, though opponents argue the safety of other countries’ pharmaceuticals can’t be guaranteed. Klobuchar also proposed an amendment backing the government’s ability to negotiate drug prices on behalf of Medicare but a vote wasn’t taken on the measure.

$80 Billion Buyout

“PhRMA has worked to insulate the industry from bidding on drug prices from government programs. The group pledged $80 billion to help fund Obamacare in 2009 in exchange for protection from drug-price negotiation that Democrats wanted to include in the Affordable Care Act.”

That $80 billion buyout cost consumers how many hundreds of billions in prescription costs?

And paying the competition to not produce generics sounds like a genuine antitrust violation that deserves to be prosecuted.

Trump has a chance from the get-go to do something right. Let’s see if he follows through.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock