by Paul Buchheit
September 12, 2016
is a college teacher, an active member of US Uncut Chicago, founder
and developer of social justice and educational websites (UsAgainstGreed.org,
PayUpNow.org, RappingHistory.org), and the editor and main author of
Wars: Illusions and Realities" (Clarity Press).
He can be
A pharmacist holds a package of
product, in Sacramento, Calif., last month.
said it will make available a generic version
EpiPen, as criticism mounts over the price
Mylan, it was a perfect plan - diabolical, unstoppable.
The company made
changes in its anti-allergy EpiPen dispenser in 2009, enough to
patent protection. Then, in 2012, it began to give away free
schools, gradually making school nurses at least partly
dependent on them.
company was successfully lobbying for the "Emergency Epinephrine
Act," commonly referred to as the "EpiPen
Law," which encouraged the presence of epinephrine dispensers in
after raising the price from $100 to $600, Mylan
making itself appear generous even though the price had effectively
jumped from $100 to $300.
This is capitalism at its worst, a greedy and disdainful
profit-over-people system that leaves millions of Americans sick...
These are the sins of
the pharmaceutical industry.
1. Gouging Customers
The Mylan story is just one of many.
An American with cancer will
bills up to $183,000 per year, even though it
hasn't been established that the expensive treatments actually
A 12-week course of Sovaldi, for hepatitis, costs
Gilead Sciences about $84 and is priced at
This is an industry that can suddenly impose a
60,000% increase on desperately ill people.
the pharmaceutical industry's profit margin is matched only by the
financial industry for the highest corporate profit margin.
2. Disposing of People Who Can't Afford Medication
A Forbes writer
now, a cash-strapped parent or budget-limited patient with a severe
allergy will skip acquiring an EpiPen. And someday, they will need
it in a life-threatening situation... and they won’t have it.
they will die."
Health Affairs study concluded that since 2004 our medical
dollars have been,
"increasingly concentrated on the wealthy."
result the richest 1% of American males live nearly
15 years longer than the poorest 1% (10 years for women).
high cost of medication is one of the factors leading to early
3. Gouging Us a Second Time
We're paying twice for outrageously overpriced medications, both
directly and with our tax dollars.
The average medical insurance
deductible has increased
67 percent since 2010, and most Medicare patients still face
out-of-pocket costs of $7,000 or more a year.
Over $5 billion of our tax dollars was
spent by Medicare and Medicaid in 2014 on just two drugs (Sovaldi
Pharmaceutical lobbyists have rigged the system to
prevent Medicare from
negotiating for lower drug prices.
Not satisfied with Medicare-related abuses, Purdue Pharmaceuticals
targeting troubled post-9/11 veterans with expensive and
addicting opioid medications, and
within ten years a third of the
Army’s soldiers were hooked on prescription drugs.
4. Stealing Our Research
The pharmaceutical industry receives most of its
basic research funding from the taxpayers, and 75 percent of the
innovative drugs were initially funded by the National
Institutes of Health.
notes that the U.S. is unique in giving drug companies patent
monopolies on drugs that are essential for people’s health and
An example is genetically engineered
insulin, which due to patent protection cannot be made
generically, and as a result can
cost a patient up to $5,000 a year, many times more than a
Another example is the anti-parasite
Daraprim, which has been on the market for 62 years, yet was
appropriated by the now-infamous Martin Shkreli and price-hiked from
$13.50 to $750.00.
A common excuse for pharmaceutical greed is the cost of research and
development. But the industry spends almost $20 on
every dollar spent on
Meanwhile, Big Pharma has
cut nearly 150,000 jobs since 2008, mostly in R&D.
Cheating on Taxes
largest pharmaceutical companies, with over $20 billion in
combined profits last year, claimed nearly $9 billion in U.S.
despite having nearly half their sales in the United States.
Other major drug companies use the notorious
inversion procedure to skip out on taxes.
AbbVie has done it
Mylan, along with all its other transgressions, ditched the U.S.
for the Netherlands, despite having its employees and facilities in
Adding a further touch of hypocrisy, Mylan sought
help when another company tried to buy it out.
Patriotism is a beautiful thing to corporations when it protects