Panic over drug prices
The panic over skyrocketing drug prices is growing exponentially. When it was mainly patients with rare diseases facing obscene price hikes for medicine, many Americans gritted their teeth and looked away, grateful it wasn’t their problem.
But now “trickle down” has a new meaning. More and more of us (including children) who have fairly common ailments like diabetes and allergies are suddenly discovering we cannot afford the medicines we depend on to live.
The outrageous mess with Mylan Pharmaceuticals’ EpiPen is only the most recent, glaring example, but the prices of insulin, Gleevac, Solvaldi and others are exploding too.
“Big Business Picking Our Pockets”
Per Michael Winship, senior writer for BillMoyers.com, in his article Drugs and Privilege: Big Business, Congress and the EpiPen (Nation of Change, 8/31/16):
“…this is one more, big old scam — yet another case of big business trying to pull the wool over the citizens’ eyes and pick our pockets while the government and our politicians mostly look the other way.”
But we can’t let the politicians look the other way! The problem is growing ever worse and something must be done about it. When the price of medicine is set beyond the reach of everyday people, they will suffer and die.
As reported this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (8/30/16), The High Cost of Prescription Drugs in the United States (Harvard Medical School):
“Per capita prescription drug spending in the United States exceeds that in all other countries, largely driven by brand-name drug prices that have been increasing in recent years at rates far beyond the consumer price index.”
Why is this happening? Researchers concluded:
“Drug prices are higher in the United States than in the rest of the industrialized world because, unlike that in nearly every other advanced nation, the US health care system allows manufacturers to set their own price for a given product.”
Government-protected monopolies drive prices higher
Note, the researchers did not conclude that drug prices are going up because of the usual excuses given by “Pig” Pharma, like “research is so expensive,” and so forth. In fact, they refuted these claims, pointing out that more than half of new pharmaceutical products had been developed from research funded by you and me – the taxpayers!
In fact, they found that the true causes of high drug prices are public policies that protect drug manufacturers’ competitive advantages and negotiating power. Yes, government-protected monopolies are driving drug prices higher.
In addition to allowing blatant patent tinkering, our political leaders also support and enforce FDA restrictions on importing drugs which, again, limit patients’ access to less expensive drugs from abroad. Add to that tax breaks and other regulatory shenanigans, and the American people are getting screwed over every which way.
Where are our political leaders?
Yet public policies and regulations can be changed. What’s the hold up? Why aren’t our politicians all over this?
According to OpenSecrets.org, the pharmaceutical industry spent $240,218,911 on lobbying in 2015 alone. And what are they spending in California?
Good question! A brand new study* called Follow the Drug Dollars reveals that California Senators and Assembly Members are getting paid thousands, even tens of thousands, of dollars by the drug industry. In addition, California doctors, building trades unions, “advocacy” groups and more are also getting drug industry payoffs.
According to Follow the Drug Dollars :
“Some of these people and groups are the drug industry’s top paid mercenaries, giving a veneer of respectability to what is just a naked attempt by Big Pharma to protect its profiteering and obscene profits.”
It’s way past time to put a stop to this
Proposition 61, the Drug Price Relief Act, represents a bold first step at reining in “Pig” Pharma. Per David Lazarus, in his article Drug Companies Spend Millions To Keep Charging High Prices (Sci-Tech Today, 8/26/2016):
“The Drug Price Relief Act would make prescription drugs more affordable for people in Medi-Cal and other state programs by requiring that California pay no more than what’s paid for the same drugs by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. It would, in other words, protect state taxpayers from being ripped off.”
Sounds great, right? But read the article – “Pig” Pharma is gearing up to defeat it.
They are going to spend millions and millions of dollars (projections indicate up to $100 million) on advertising to convince you to vote against your own interest. They’ll set up fake organizations with names like “Californians for Sensible Drug Pricing” who will oppose Prop 61. They’ll get politicians to talk about how bad this will be for California’s economy. They’ll claim that Prop 61 will cause drug prices to go up.
Prop 61 is good for California
Don’t fall for the BS! Prop 61 is good for California, it’s good for you and me.
It’s no secret that HEAL California seeks big solutions, like Improved, Expanded Medicare for All.
Prop 61 is only a step, but it is an incredibly important one. Prop 61 throws down the gauntlet to “Pig” Pharma, an industry that clearly is ready and willing to kill for their profits. We must take back control of our prescription medicine, and Prop 61 is the first step.
If you believe that health care should be about people, rather than profits, join HEAL California! Better healthcare is within reach, but we have to come together and fight for it.