Same Sky in Big Sky Country

This is my last day in Washington, D.C. before I make the long drive out to Helena, Montana where I will be living. In light of that, I thought this story shows that no matter how far you go, it is all the same sky. Because even though I am leaving the lobbyist-infested environs of our nation’s capital, it is hard to escape the sad reality that Big Money in politics is everywhere.

In this little piece from the Billings Gazette, we see that the pharmaceutical industry is fighting a proposal in the Montana legislature to help extend drug coverage to the state’s poorest residents, and create a drug discount card. Apparently, the drug industry’s tentacles stretch all the way to America’s small towns — and their zest to keep drug prices high now threatens even the most modest proposal to help the poor.

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer has been working for years on efforts to allow Montana pharmacists to import lower-priced, FDA-approved medicines from abroad. When President Bush visited Montana last week, the Missoulian reported that Schweitzer “questioned why the Bush administration is forbidding the re-importation of safe prescription drugs from Canada, while opening the border to Canadian beef as questions remain over its safety.”

For his efforts, Schweitzer has been a target of dishonest drug industry smear ads — and now, as governor, is sure to face opposition from the industry and its White House allies on importation. It will be interesting to see how the fight unfolds…