A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers is seeking to repeal a Medicare-pricing provision in the recent "fiscal-cliff" deal in Congress that benefits Thousand Oaks biotech giant Amgen Inc.
Legislation to eliminate the exemption for a class of drugs, including Amgen's Sensipar, that are used by kidney dialysis patients, was filed this week by U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.). The fiscal cliff legislation approved this month excluded these oral medications from Medicare price controls for an additional two years.
"Amgen managed to get a $500-million paragraph in the fiscal cliff bill, and virtually no one in Congress was aware of it," Welch said. "It's a taxpayer rip-off and comes at a really bad time when we're trying to control healthcare costs. Amgen should not be allowed to turn Medicare into a profit center."
The company said it supports the two-year delay so patient care isn't disrupted while federal officials examine concerns raised in a 2011 report by the Government Accountability Office.