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Fiscal Footnote: Senate Gift to Drug Maker

Just two weeks after pleading guilty in a major federal fraud case, Amgen, the world's largest biotechnology firm, scored a largely unnoticed coup on Capitol Hill: Lawmakers inserted a paragraph into the "fiscal cliff" bill that did not mention the company by name but strongly favored one of its drugs.

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Amgen's headquarters in Thousand Oaks, Calif., Monica Almeida/The New York Times
WASHINGTON - Just two weeks after pleading guilty in a major
 federal fraud case, Amgen, the world's largest biotechnology
 firm, scored a largely unnoticed coup on Capitol Hill:
 Lawmakers inserted a paragraph into the "fiscal cliff" bill
 that did not mention the company by name but strongly
 favored one of its drugs.
The language buried in Section 632 of the law delays a set of
 Medicare price restraints on a class of drugs that includes
 Sensipar, a lucrative Amgen pill used by kidney dialysis
 patients.
The provision gives Amgen an additional two years to sell
 Sensipar without government controls. The news was so
 welcome that the company's chief executive quickly relayed
 it to investment analysts. But it is projected to cost
 Medicare up to $500 million over that period.
Amgen, which has a small army of 74 lobbyists in the capital,
 was the only company to argue aggressively for the delay,
 according to several Congressional aides of both parties.