Over the past decade, Mylan raised the price of the EpiPen, a life-saving device for people with food allergies to consumers by a whopping 500%. Meanwhile, the Mylan CEO got a raise in her already bloated salary and compensation package of 671%. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Big Pharma’s greed and avarice and its willingness to sacrifice human lives on the altar of the Golden Calf.
Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton wants to discourage this sort of thing. In a recent tweet, she pointed out that “EpiPens can be the difference between life and death. There’s no justification for these price hikes.” She also points out that just in the last twelve months, there have been “far too many examples of drug companies raising prices excessively for long-standing, life-saving treatments with little or no new innovation or R&D.”
Of course, Big Pharma whines and complains that they’re taking all these risks, and it costs them so much in research and development (forgetting to mention that in most cases, that research takes place at taxpayer-funded universities if they don’t simply buy the rights to the drug from another company like “Pharma Bro” Shkreli). And of course, they’re blaming Obamacare as well.
We’re not buying those lies anymore – and neither is Ms. Clinton.
Part of her solution is to establish an agency that would monitor and investigate these unending price increases. Should it be found that (as is usually the case) said price increases were simply an attempt to pad company profits at the expense of patients, that agency would be authorized to assess penalties against the drug manufacturer as well as fund its competitors in bringing similar products to the market.
The other component to Ms. Clinton’s proposal is to lift the restrictions on imported drugs from Canada. As is the case in most every other industrialized nation, Canadians pay a small fraction for the same drugs that Americans do. During Bush II’s Reign of Error, Big Pharma’s corporate lickspittles in Congress imposed those restrictions at the behest of their masters – and Americans have been paying for it every since. This would hopefully change under a Clinton Administration.
Unfortunately, unless there are big changes in Congress, President Clinton would be likely to face the same obstructionism that President Obama has had to contend with for the past eight years. Nonetheless, increasing public fury over Big Pharma’s psychopathic greed and ongoing price gouging could lead to some bipartisanship on this issue. Perhaps Congress’ fear of their constituents bringing out the torches and pitchforks would overcome its blind devotion and mindless service to its Corporate overlords.
Ms. Clinton’s proposed solution is admirable – and may even work to some degree. But like Obamacare, it is a good idea that doesn’t go far enough. The problem is that, like the corrupt American health care “system,” it addresses only the symptoms. It does nothing to deal with the disease itself, which is the profit motive operating in an area in which it has no business.
Therein lies the root of the problem.
Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with the profit motive – it has brought us better, less expensive technology, new appliances and tools that free us from many time-consuming chores, compelling entertainment, more reliable vehicles, games, toys, and other things that make life easier and more convenient. However, our lives and our well-being do not depend on these things as much as they depend on the basics – clean air and water, safe and nutritious food, decent housing, medicine, and health care services. History has shown again and again that when the “free market” gets its hands on the things that we collectively depend upon for our very existence, it turns out extremely well for a very few people at the top – and very badly for the rest of us.
Free enterprise and entrepreneurship have their place, but health care is not one of them. Until the US finally wakes up to the fact that virtually every other industrialized nation understands and forcibly removes the profit motive from medicine, proposals like Clinton’s will amount to no more than a bandage over a festering wound.