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The Media Fund

This liberal group, led by Democratic strategist Harold M. Ickes, began airing a 30-second advertisement that criticized President Bush. The ad, titled “Pills,” is expected to run in 17 targeted states, from Washington to Florida. California is not among them.

The script: Elderly man: “There’s 14 drugs I take. If I don’t take it, I would not be here. It’s as simple as that.”

Narrator: “Prescription costs are climbing. Yet President Bush sided with the drug companies, blocking Medicare from negotiating lower prices ... and banning Americans from importing low-cost drugs from Canada. For Bush, drug company profits come first.”

Elderly man: “If they ever stop me from going to Canada, my feeling is, let the government arrest me. Let them pay for my drugs. Put me in jail.”

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Images: An elderly couple are shown sitting at a kitchen table, with the man talking about prescription drugs. The screen also shows a newspaper clipping about rising drug costs and a picture of Bush giving a speech.

Analysis: This ad aims to negate any political advantage Bush may have gotten when he signed into law Republican-crafted Medicare changes late last year. It is not in dispute that drug costs are rising. It is also true that the new Medicare law barred the government from negotiating lower prices and that the Bush administration has opposed efforts to allow pharmacists and individuals to import cheaper drugs from Canada. Those policies do put the administration on the side of the pharmaceutical industry. The industry argues that government price controls would handicap research by drug companies and, because of that, potentially hurt consumers. The ad neglects to say that the Clinton administration also blocked importation of drugs from Canada, based on concerns that their safety could not be ensured by U.S. regulators. Nor does the ad mention that the new Medicare law will allow elderly beneficiaries to obtain drug discount cards this year.

Graphics reporting by Times staff writer Nick Anderson

Los Angeles Times

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