Congress drags Big Pharma into Obamacare negotiation probe

When Big Pharma negotiated its $100 billion cost-cutting deal with the White House and Senate in 2009, the aim was to hold off more onerous price cuts and policy shifts as the president hammered out healthcare reform. And for the most part, it worked.

But as time went on, detractors in Washington denounced it as sweetheart horse-trading, and, as the bill came due, called it industry-sapping government interference. Which may sound mutually exclusive, but inside the Beltway, paradox is a way of life.

Now, House Republicans are digging into the agreement's genesis, Bloomberg reports. The House Energy and Commerce Committee has demanded documents and information from Pfizer ($PFE), Merck ($MRK), Amgen ($AMGN), Abbott Laboratories ($ABT) and AstraZeneca ($AZN), sources tell the news service. And PhRMA says it's cooperating with the investigation, too.

The committee says the industry has been stonewalling; the White House hasn't turned over information on the deal negotiations, either. Drugmakers worry that handing over information will just cause problems, especially during an election year. Past Republican-led probes have focused on patient safety or Medicare, Hamilton PPB President and healthcare consultant Alex Vachon told the news service. This time, it's more political, he said, adding, "There's no upside here."

- read the Bloomberg piece