Readers Write: Big pharma’s big lie

There have been some recent articles appearing in The Island Now promoting what is little more than agitprop for the pharmaceutical industry. This calls for bringing up a few facts.

The first myth Pharma promotes is that outsized, unfettered profit margins are a requirement if we want to foster “innovation” in finding new cures. This is manifestly false. One, a great deal of research is funded by our tax dollars through the National Institutes of Health, as well as private institutions.

Perversely, it’s also funded by the afflicted themselves, who raise money for charitable organizations formed to find cures, just so they can have their life savings wiped out should they ever wind up being produced.

Second, prices are simply raised on existing products on a whim, even on products that were never priced in relation to their cost of production.

Yet another common trick is to escape patent expiration, and thus stave off generic competition, by manipulating the drug formula to make it seem as if it were a “new” drug. AbbVie recently pulled off this hustle with Humira, which is used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

Advair (asthma) is priced at a monthly cost of $310 in the U.S., while it is priced at $74 in Canada. Lantus (Insulin) is priced at $373 here and only $74 in Canada. Canada is by no means the lowest cost example, it should be noted. A full list of examples of price gouging would take up several pages in this newspaper.

One need only look at the example of the Sackler family’s promotion of OxyContin to see how much of the profits they made were so critical to “research.”

Moreover, it seems while the Sacklers are being dragged through the courts and a few doctors have been convicted for writing scrips for millions of pills, the pharmacy industry seems to have escaped any scrutiny.

How odd is it that tens of millions of pills can surge through the supply chains of Walgreen’s, CVS, Rite Aid and others without so much as a whisper of concern? The annual number of prescriptions for OxyContin went from 670,000 in 1997, to 6.2 million by 2002. By 2006, 72.4 prescriptions were written for every 100 people, and doctors simply wrote up refills like they were giving out candy. No one asked any questions while the bodies piled up.

Because this is what your entire health care delivery system is about. It’s why opioid deaths per capita are more than double that of any other nation.

It was with great bemusement that our County Executive congratulated herself for a reduction in opioid deaths. I regret to inform her that this mirrors the national trend, and it’s nothing anyone did: the low hanging fruit of victims from this scourge is conveniently dead.

Let the above be a warning to those mulling over their choices in the next election. You go right ahead and vote for those “reasonable” and “moderate” candidates, who will do nothing to crack down on these vultures in the Medical Industrial Complex.

They’ll make sure not to disturb their flow of funds from the industry, just as your local “elected” officials agree to keep your County in a perpetual fiscal crisis to get their palms greased by the “Property Tax Correction” firms. It’s the way the world works, old boy. Because you let it.

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The Island Now

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