60 Minutes tells the story of how pharmaceutical industry lobbyists literally wrote the historic Medicare Prescription Drug Bill and twisted arms to get the necessary votes to have it passed in the middle of the night. Correspondent Steve Kroft documents how many of the congressmen and staffers who worked on the bill later went on to work for the drug companies their legislation helped enrich.
"The pharmaceutical lobbyists wrote the bill," says [Republican Congressman Walter] Jones. "The bill was over 1,000 pages. And it got to the members of the House that morning, and we voted for it at about 3 a.m. in the morning....I've been in politics for 22 years, and it was the ugliest night I have ever seen in 22 years."
If you have ever wondered why the cost of prescription drugs in the United States are the highest in the world or why it's illegal to import cheaper drugs from Canada or Mexico, you need look no further than the pharmaceutical lobby and its influence in Washington, D.C.
In January, one of the first things the new Democratic House of Representatives did was to make it mandatory for Medicare to negotiate lower prices with the drug companies.
A similar measure faces stiff opposition in the Senate, where the drug lobby is spending millions of dollars to defeat it. The president has already announced that if the bill passes, he will veto it.