City Desk

David Catania Is “Big Pharma Enemy #1″

At-Large Councilmember David A. Catania has done plenty over the past few years to piss off the pharmaceutical industry. He's essentially declared war on high drug prices and fought for legislation to make drugs more affordable in the District. And more recently, the D.C. Council on Tuesday voted to proceed with his legislation that would tightly regulate drug sales representatives in the District.

Now Big Pharma is fighting back. Online and anonymously, anyway.

A Web site recently posted at bigpharmarealpeople.org names Catania "Big Pharma Enemy #1" and attributes to him the following:

  • "I want to 'shake the pharmaceutical industry to its core.'"
  • "I am a Washington Lawyer whose sole purpose is to invent solutions to problems that don't exist."
  • "If I am successful, hundreds of DC area residents will loose [sic] their jobs."
  • "I am an enemy to Big Pharma, big business and capitalism."

Who's behind the site? Good question: The site's domain name was registered by a proxy service, making it impossible to trace who runs the site. The "Big Pharma Team" is listed as Managing Editor John Galt, Associate Editor Dagney Taggart, Editor Hugh Akston, and Editor Hank Reardon.

Those names should be familiar to anyone who went through an adolescent Ayn Rand phase: Those are the names of characters from that author's Atlas Shrugged. (Note, however, that they misspelled "Dagny Taggart" and "Hank Rearden.") E-mails to members of the "Big Pharma Team" were not immediately returned.

"It's par for the course," Catania says. "It's the way the pharmaceutical industry, much like the the tobacco industry, chooses to engage in the arena of ideas. It's name-calling."

The site's tagline is "Big Pharma is Real People, Saving Lives Is Our Business," and it features sympathetic profiles of several drug company employees, none identified by their full name. A passage on the site says its purpose is to "point out how the news media, movie and entertainment industries lie and distort the facts when it comes to Big Pharma," to "fight ridiculous Government rules and regulation that hamper Big Pharma from acting in the best interest of customers, patients and pharmacies," and to "point out that corporations are not faceless, evil giants that take advantage of the individual."

Have to say, guys—this anonymous Web site isn't doing much to combat that whole "faceless" thing.

Catania does offer his kudos to the site's creators in one respect: their taste in photography. The Web page features a photo of the councilmember dating back at least five years. "I'm flattered that they chose to use a picture that makes me look younger and more handsome," he says.

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