From AlterNet: “Big Pharma’s trail of greed, power, and cruelty gets worse every year. Its products and practices take hundreds of thousands of lives in the U.S. from over-prescriptions, lethal combinations of prescriptions, ineffective or contaminated drugs, and dangerous side-effects.
The biggest drug dealers in the U.S. operate legally. Their names are emblazoned in ads and promotions everywhere. Who hasn’t heard of Eli Lilly, Merck, Pfizer, and Novartis? Big Pharma revenues and profits have skyrocketed. In 2017, the U.S. consumers spent $333.4 billion on prescription drugs.
. . . The FDA weakly regulates drugs, which are supposed to be both safe and effective, before they can be sold. Who funds this FDA effort? The drug industry itself—required by a law it has learned to love . . .
Big Pharma’s greatest strength is its hold over Congress. That is where it gets its huge bundle of subsidies and monopolistic privileges . . .
The great hands-on humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders, operating in 70 countries often under dangerous armed conflicts, lists ‘Six Things Big Pharma Doesn’t Want You to Know’ in its recent alert letter.
- Costs of developing new medicines are exaggerated tenfold or more.
- You’re paying twice for your medicines—first as taxpayers and second as consumers or through your government programs.
- Drug companies are not that good at innovation. About two thirds of new drugs (called ‘me-too drugs’) are no better, and may be riskier, than the ones already in pharmacies. But they are advertised as special.
- Monopoly patents are extended by clever lawyers to block more affordable generic versions. This maneuver is called ‘ever greening.’
- Pharma bullies low and middle income countries like South Africa, Thailand, Brazil, Colombia, and Malaysia that try to curb its rapaciousness. These drug companies use trade rules and the U.S. government towards their brutal goals.
In the 1990s, a small group of consumer advocates led by Jamie Love, Bill Haddad, and Robert Weissman persuaded Cipla, an Indian drug firm, and Ministries of Public Health to lower the price of AIDS medicines from $10,000 per patient per year price down to $300 (now under $100). The U.S. drug companies were quite willing to let millions die because they couldn’t pay.
- Big Pharma always says they have to have large profits to pay for R&D and innovation. Really? Why then do they spend far more on stock buybacks (one of the metrics for executive compensation), on marketing and advertising than on R&D? Dr. Wolfe exposed this malarkey years ago.
Yet exposure has not stopped the worsening behavior of Big Pharma. Good books by Katharine Greider (The Big Fix) and Dr. Marcia Angell (The Truth About the Drug Companies) are devastating critiques of Big Pharma’s practices. Despite this, the books reach small audiences and are brushed off by the drug giants. Big Pharma is able to ignore these books because it controls most of Congress—candidates rely heavily on the industry for campaign budgets.
But the American people outnumber the drug companies and only the people can actually vote come election time. Focused voters mean more to politicians than campaign money. The August recess for Congress means your lawmakers are back home having personal meetings. Visit them and make known your demands against the ‘pay or die’ industry. Tell them your own stories.”