I good friend and supporter of Politics Done Right sent me this email this morning about the fraud that is drug companies, pharmaceuticals. I have written about and done stories about insulin fraud for years.
It is deeper than just insulin. It is that too often; drug companies are pilfering our pocketbooks, selling us overpriced drugs we developed in public universities or developed with public grants. Again, too often, we are paying for the drugs’ development as the pharmaceutical gets 100% of the profits they get from overpricing the drugs.
This fraud permeates our entire healthcare system. And until we ignore the propaganda from the health industrial complex and start accepting that what we have is a legal pilfer, nothing will change. Please read the entire piece below and sign the petition. Let’s make the change.
The time is long overdue for Congress to take on the powerful special interests that dominate the economic and political life of this country. And to be honest with you, there is no more powerful special interest in this country than the pharmaceutical industry.
Today, the pharmaceutical industry charges us, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs and has managed to create a situation where they can raise their prices to any level they want no matter how many tens of thousands of people die or get sick because they can’t afford the medicine they need. That’s power.
The drug companies are an industry which, year after year makes huge profits and pays its CEOs incredibly large compensation packages. It is an industry which is significantly responsible for the high cost of health care in America — impacting both individuals and the government.
It is an industry which has an incredibly opaque pricing system which charges one branch of government a very different price than it charges another. It charges hospitals, nursing homes and individuals very different prices for the same exact product — all with the goal of maximizing profits.
This is an industry that has paid $32 billion dollars in fines over the last 20 years as a result of price-fixing, overcharging the federal, state and local governments, bribery, collusion, fraud and deception. And yet, the industry keeps going along its merry way, virtually untouchable.
Now, how do they get away with all of that? Not hard to understand.
During the last 23 years the drug companies have spent $7.6 billion dollars on lobbyists, including the former leadership of the Democratic and Republican parties. They have more than 1,500 lobbyists here in Washington as well as in virtually every state capital in the nation. Since 1990, they have spent nearly $730 million on campaign contributions which have gone to many hundreds of members of Congress in both political parties.
Let’s be clear. The pharmaceutical industry is not particularly sympathetic to the Democratic Party or the Republican Party.
They try to buy both parties.
In fact I think it is fair to say that it is not Congress which regulates the drug companies, but the drug companies which regulates Congress. That has got to change.
Last year, one out of five Americans could not afford to buy the medicine prescribed by their doctor.
Meanwhile, while Americans are dying because they cannot afford the medications they need, nine large drug companies made over $58 billion dollars in profits last year, while just six pharmaceutical industry CEOs made $564 million dollars in total compensation over the past three years.
In 2018, one out of every four Americans with type 1 diabetes was forced to ration insulin because they could not afford it.
Let’s be clear. Insulin is not a new drug. It was invented nearly 100 years ago by Canadian scientists who sold the patent rights of insulin for just $3 because they believed it should be accessible to everyone who needed it.
But over the past decade, the price of insulin has gone up by over 300 percent.
Yet, 50 miles from my home in Vermont, you can purchase insulin in Canada at about one-tenth of the price that we pay in America.
And let’s be clear. Prescription drug prices in Canada are also high compared to other countries that are not named the United States.
According to a recent study by RAND, a standard unit of insulin costs:
- $98.70 in the U.S.
- $12.00 in Canada
- $11.00 in Germany
- $9.08 in France
- $7.52 in the UK
- $6.94 in Australia
And it’s not just insulin.
A one-month prescription of Entocort to treat Crohn’s disease costs $830 in the U.S., but just $81 in Canada.
One asthma inhaler — Flovent Diskus — costs $242 in the U.S. but just $27 across the northern border.
Two EpiPens cost $686 in the U.S., but $278 in Canada.
On and on it goes. Same medications, manufactured by the same companies, in the same factories — all available in Canada for a fraction of the price.
In my view, we can no longer tolerate a system that allows the former CEO of Gilead, John Martin, to become a billionaire by charging $1,000 for a hepatitis C drug called Sovaldi that costs just $1 to manufacture and can be purchased in India for just $4.
We can no longer tolerate a system that allows the chairman of Mylan, Robert Coury, to receive a $164 million compensation package in 2016 after his company jacked-up the price of an EpiPen by 550 percent over a nine-year period.
All over this country, the American people are asking a simple question: How many people need to die, how many people need to get unnecessarily sicker, before Congress is prepared to take on the greed of the prescription drug industry?
The American people are demanding that Congress listen to their concerns, and not cower before the power of the pharmaceutical industry.
In order to begin to address this issue I have introduced three bills with many of my colleagues in the Senate and the House that would substantially reduce prescription drug prices in this country and also save the federal government significant sums of money.
The first bill is the Prescription Drug Price Relief Act which would cut prescription drug prices in half by pegging the price of medicine in the United States to the median price in five major countries: Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Japan.
The second bill is the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act which would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs under Medicare Part D. Every other country on earth, in one form or another, negotiates drug prices and the time is long overdue for Medicare to do that as well. According to a recent study, if this bill became law, the U.S. government could save more than $345 billion over the next decade.
The third bill, the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act would allow patients, pharmacists and wholesalers to legally purchase safe, low-cost medicine from Canada and other major countries. At a time when we buy products from all over the world, including vegetables, beef, poultry, fish, and virtually every other type of edible product, pharmacists and prescription drug distributors should be allowed to purchase lower-cost brand name drugs from abroad.
We’re going to be taking on one of the most powerful special interest groups in the country, which is why it is important that we show we stand together on this issue. That is why I am asking:
The American people are sick and tired of paying the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, which in many cases they cannot afford.
The time is long overdue for the United States to summon up the courage to take on perhaps the most powerful special interest group in the country, the pharmaceutical industry. Thanks for adding your name to my petition today to show our movement is united on this issue.
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