Stop gouging Americans, Big Pharma

A couple of months ago I called out Big Pharma for flooding the market with opioids and the adverse effect they were having on society. Many experts blame Big

Mike Wilcox Editor/Publisher

Mike Wilcox
Editor/Publisher

Pharma for starting and perpetuating the Opioid  crisis by offering unscrupulous doctors thousands of pain pills so they in turn could oversell them to patients whether they needed them or not.

But Big Pharma is to blame for society ills beyond the Opioid crisis. I blame them for the skyrocketing costs of health care. Making drugs appears to be a license to legally rip-off the American public, and the practice goes unchecked despite a number of reports calling out unscrupulous pharmaceutical firms.

A study published recently shows the nation’s top ten drug makers jacked up the prices on some of the most widely prescribed drugs by 40 to 70 percent over the last four years. Mind you, those increases amount to fourteen times the rate of inflation.

Unabashedly, those ten Big Pharma firms have stashed over $500 billion in profits offshore in the same time period.  That amounts to $133 billion in unpaid U.S. taxes.

Big Pharma simply shifts control of a drug formula to a foreign subsidiary, most likely in Ireland or Bermuda, and then licenses the formula back to the U.S. parent at a steep price. This increases the parent company’s cost, thereby reducing its profits and thus the taxes it would pay to the U.S. Treasury. Meanwhile profits are artificially booked where they’ll be taxed little if at all.

So Big Pharma wins two ways. They can increase the price of popular drugs, thus gouging ordinary Americans, and at the same time, can dodge paying taxes.
The study found that the retail price of nine drugs commonly used by older Americans leapt an average of 71% over the four year time period. This includes Pfizer’s very popular arthritis pain drug Celebrex. Among the biggest spikes were Pfizer’s nerve medication Lyrica which doubled, while the price paid by Medicaid for Johnson & Johnson’s HIV treatment, Prezista jumped 131 percent.

Furthermore the cost of insulin, despite no increased manufacturing costs has tripled in the last 10 years. We wrote about the epipen, the lifesaving allergy medicine, a year ago, and noted the price has increased by 500% over the last few years, despite again, no real changes in manufacturing costs.

Many new cancer drugs cost routinely over $100,000 a year. Unless you have really good health insurance, you and I aren’t going to be able to afford these. Heck one new cystic fibrosis drug costs over $300,000 a year.

The irony of all this is most drugs cost very little to manufacture.  I don’t want to bore you with statistics, but I found these to be outrageous. The cost  for Claritin raw materials is 71 cents. That means one Claritin pill is marked up 30,306 percent.  Raw materials for one Celebrex pill cost 60 cents. Their markup is 21,712 percent. And you wonder why Big Pharma can spend so much money for television advertising?

Being a libertarian, I rarely propose government interference, but in the case of Big Pharma, our leaders need to come down hard. They are destroying  the lives of millions of Americans. We can’t afford to be healthy. We can’t afford to live and prosper in our later years.

Big Pharma needs to be reeled in. They shouldn’t be allowed to charge exorbitant prices for drugs. They shouldn’t be allowed to shelter their profits overseas.
Time to act Congress.

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