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Public Statements

Asthma Inhalers Relief Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. WAXMAN. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

My colleagues, this is a bill that is special for one company in order for it to sell off the batches of the Primatene Mist that it has on stock. This is a product that's not on the market now--it was taken off the market--and there are substitutes on the market that the public health and medical groups say are far better and are far safer.

There are a large number of organizations that have come to the floor on this bill to oppose it. The Energy and Commerce Committee heard expert medical testimony that Primatene Mist is not safe or recommended for treating asthma, and we have a chart here. These are the groups that oppose this bill and that would urge you to vote ``no'': the American Lung Association, the American Thoracic Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. All of the people involved in health are saying they don't want this drug on the market, that it will only confuse asthma patients, and that it is not the safest drug that they could have.

Now, the gentleman from Texas has said what we ought to do if it's not safe is to take it off the market. It is off the market. It hasn't been taken off because of safety, but it is not recommended by the medical community.

There is another group here called the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy, and I'd like to indicate some of the organizations that are part of that alliance, which are some of the major corporations in this country.

Lastly, I want to show a chart of those who are in favor of this bill: Armstrong Pharmaceuticals. It is the one company that will benefit from this bill because it will be able to sell off the reserves of its product.

Now, is that in the best interest of the patients? Is that what Congress ought to be doing, passing a special earmarked bill to favor one company in order for it to be able to take the rest of its stock and sell it to people?

We do have a Food and Drug Administration, and we do have an Environmental Protection Agency. We've delegated to them the responsibility to protect the public health, to make sure that drugs are safe and effective. This Primatene Mist was supposed to come off the market, and it was given an additional year. Other companies were also going to have to go off the market. They knew that, and they're not on the market now. So why should we take one company's drug and put it back on the market so that it could sell off the products that it still has in its backlog?

In fact, as you might imagine, those companies are against this bill. They say it would overturn an established regulatory framework to directly benefit just one company--Armstrong. Over the years, more than a dozen types of inhalers containing CFCs have been phased out, but these companies say: Why should we do something special for only one company? We're talking about not just the health groups, but drug companies like AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline. They oppose this bill because it provides one company with the special treatment that none of these other companies receive.

There is no reason for this bill. This is a drug that is already off the market. There are substitutes that are being developed, and there are substitutes that are already on the market. I don't think we ought to be using the Suspension Calendar, of all procedures, to give a special deal to just one company.

I urge Members to oppose the bill, and I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. WAXMAN. First of all, I want to address some of these issues myself, and then I will yield to others who want to speak.

There is an environmental problem along with this medical problem. The environmental problem is that there is a deterioration of the upper ozone layer. And the United States, under President George H.W. Bush, negotiated an international treaty called the Montreal Protocol to get those products off the market that add chlorofluorocarbons which cause this environmental damage.

And so my friend from Texas is right: we can't get hair spray or deodorant that has the propellent that has been taken off the market. But no one's arguing we should let them come back on the market to sell off their products. There are substitutes. My hair is in place because I don't need those products any longer. And my friend from Texas is handling his deodorant problem adequately. The fact of the matter is there are other products for asthma that the people in the medical professions say is superior; and they say that Primatene Mist can lead to damage and become a threat to health. So why are we going to take this one drug and put it back on the market?

With those comments, I now yield 3 minutes to my good friend from the State of Michigan (Mr. Dingell), the dean of the House.

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Mr. WAXMAN. Madam Speaker, I yield the balance of my time to myself.

I just want to point out what the allergy and asthma networks, mothers of asthmatics, the people who are dealing with this problem, they say this act gives unprecedented preferential and exclusive exceptions and financial benefits to Armstrong Pharmaceuticals.

Primatene Mist is specifically not recommended for the treatment of asthma in the National Institutes of Health NHLBI asthma guidelines. They don't see a reason this ought to come back on the market. And the same point of view is expressed by the others that are the professionals that treat asthma patients.

The effect of this bill will be to take the inventory that this company has and allow it to go back on the market, from January to August of 2013, so they can sell it off. It's not going back to the market; it's just going to allow the inventory to be sold off. A lot of that inventory is expiring in terms of its efficacy; so a lot of people, we hope, will not get some Primatene Mist back on the market that's not going to do them any good.

And there are better alternatives. All the medical groups are telling us there are better alternatives.

This is a special interest bill. It's a bad bill. It's bad for public health. It will confuse asthma patients. It provides special treatment to one company at the expense of its competitors. It's opposed by the people involved in health, the people who have asthma, the people who treat asthma, the manufacturers of drugs for asthma.

We don't have to go back to a drug that's been outdated already and put it back on the market so this company can sell off their inventory. They say they're going to give all the money to charity. Well, I don't know what kind of tax breaks they get. I don't see why we should let them sell off their inventory, especially an inventory that's not going to be any good beyond August of next year.

This is a bill that we ought to oppose, and I urge all my colleagues to vote ``no'' on this legislation.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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