Via America’s Lawyer: A federal judge overturns a rule from the Trump administration which would have required drug companies to disclose prices in TV ads. Mike Papantonio & Farron Cousins discuss. Also, a labor report by the International Trade Union Congress reveals American companies rank dead-last among developed economies when it comes to offering employees protections on the job. RT correspondent Brigida Santos joins Mike Papantonio to explain more.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio:             A court ruling has destroyed one of the best policies from the Trump administration. I mean, one of the few things Trump did, right. My God, you have an appellate court that always sides with big pharma, always. I mean, as you know, that’s what we do right. Day to day in this law firm, we go toe to toe with big pharma and the, the courts always side with big pharma. Lay this story out for us.

Farron Cousins:                  Health and human services with the Trump administration a little over a year ago, came up with a new rule and said, all right, big pharma, you’re not going to lower your prices. Here’s what you have to do. You have to in your advertisements, put the cost of a 30 day supply of your drugs, what you would charge somebody on Medicaid or Medicare for a 30 day supply of your drugs. That’s it. Just add it to your advertisements. And now this is the second court ruling that says, nope, you can’t do that. You can’t have them put these drug prices on there because it’s unfair. And this decision was headed up by an Obama appointee and a Carter appointee joined in on this ruling. I didn’t know there are any Jimmy Carter judges still out there.

Mike Papantonio:             Don’t we talk about this all the time. We talk about the fact that we have become, people watching this program, have become so tribal. I’m a Republican. I can only think Republican. I’m a Democrat. I can only think of, about Democrat. So now we’re saying what the Obama administration did with court appointments. And we’re seeing the result of that. You realize this court actually said, well, we can’t allow this because it’s confusing. It’s going to confuse, it’s going to confuse consumers. It’s going to be harmful to consumers. It’s a tenuous argument. And what they’re saying is the reason for that is, is because Medicaid and Medicare sometimes changes that price to where they don’t always pay that price. We’re talking about drugs that have a 10000% markup and this damn court doesn’t have enough sense to say that should be important for a consumer. Don’t you think?

Farron Cousins:                  Right. This is exactly what consumers do need to know, even if it’s not the price they pay, they need to know that there are people who have to pay that price.

Mike Papantonio:             Of course.

Farron Cousins:                  You know, there’s inhalers. I actually just had to switch off one, because it was $500 a month. BREO, which is what it was. So I’ll call them out right here by name BREO, almost $500 a month for me. And, and, and people need to know that. They need to understand because maybe their prescription, because 75% of people take a prescription every day, maybe theirs is a generic that’s been out for 50 years and they pay $10 a month. Great. These new drugs, like, like BREO that hasn’t been out too long, they’re absolutely putting people through the ringer for no reason other than they can.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay. So, so Trump, when he ran said, I’m going to do this. I’m going to take on the pharma industry.

Farron Cousins:                  Right.

Mike Papantonio:             He also said, I’m going to take on big corporations that are sending business out of the country. They’re sending work out of the country. We have to stop that. So he’s trying to deliver this. One of the few things, I mean, I, honest to God, I can’t even think of anything that this guy has done meaningful. This is one of the biggest problems in America is drug company raping consumers, 10000%. companies like Pfizer and Merck and I could go on.

Farron Cousins:                  Eli Lilly is part of it too.

Mike Papantonio:             Eli Lilly, Johnson and Johnson, raping consumers. So all of a sudden the Trump administration says, we’re going to, we’re going to solve that. We’re going to, we’re gonna make you put your price up there and this court tries to find a way to get around. And I wonder sometimes we always talk about the politics of a judiciary, how dangerous it is when the judiciary becomes political. What is your take on this one?

Farron Cousins:                  I think it’s absolutely obvious that these judges understand there was no danger in this. The only danger came in the form of danger to corporate profits. Merck and Eli Lilly might not have made as much money. Now, they could have still made just as much money. This, this did nothing to lower the actual price. It just said, you have to advertise it.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  And these judges absolutely said, listen, we may, maybe we have corporate backgrounds. I haven’t done huge checks on all these folks.

Mike Papantonio:             Oh, they’ve all done corporate. That’s all these judges are is corporate lawyers.

Farron Cousins:                  And it’s just, you know, y’all made me rich. I’m going to do the same for you.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay. Farron Cousins, thank you for joining me. As usual these stories are important, keep them coming. Okay.

Farron Cousins:                  Thank you.

Mike Papantonio:             Of the world’s richest nations, the United States ranks absolute last, where it comes to workers’ rights. RT’s Brigida Santos joins me now to tell that story. Brigida, what can you tell me about the latest findings by the world’s largest trade union federation?

Brigida Santos:                   Well, the international trade union confederation has ranked the United States last among the world’s seven largest advanced economies when it comes to workers’ rights. Now the ratings go from best to worst on a scale of one to five, depending on compliance with collective labor rights. The US has been given a rating of four, which means that the government and companies engage in serious efforts to crush the collective voice of workers and put fundamental rights under threat. America is the only group of seven nations with systemic violations of rights in the workplace. Other countries around the globe that also bear four ratings include Mexico, Nigeria, the Congo and Venezuela, all of which have fewer resources than the United States.

Mike Papantonio:             Hmm. What kinds of violations, Brigida, are the most common against employees right now? What do you see as the trend?

Brigida Santos:                   What the global rights index has exposed is a breakdown in the social contract that governments and employers have with workers. Now, this isn’t only happening in the United States, but on a global scale. And in fact, violations against workers around the world have reached a seven year high with upward trends in restricting collective bargaining, criminalizing striking, and excluding workers from joining or establishing unions. While it’s not illegal to strike or establish unions in America, workers who try to do so here are often retaliated against by employers. You know, back in 2017, a judge had ruled that Tesla CEO, Elon Musk broke the law by threatening employees and retaliating against them for wanting to unionize. Another US-based company that does things like this is Amazon, you know, they’ve been accused time and time again of firing workers who have led or participated in strikes.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. One story that we did awhile back, I thought it was really interesting, is that they were actually doing plants. They’re putting plants inside around workers to act as spies to figure out whether unions are developing. To find out who, who, who has a complaint. It’s, it’s really an ugly process. But the point to me that’s important here is as we beat down unions in the United States, the American middle class is disappearing. They’re not around anymore. And that’s, and what that ends up doing is moving to the .0001% of the economy of, of Americans holding onto all the money. This is a really, it’s a really ugly story. When this federation says, look, we looked at everything and this is bad. I want to ask you this. How has the coronavirus pandemic allowed companies to even advance this further on worker agendas?

Brigida Santos:                   Well, since the COVID-19 outbreak, many companies have changed the rules to boost their own financial interests at the expense of workers. Now, in some industries, employees have even been asked to sign away their rights to sue their bosses if they can track the virus on the job. And the US chamber of commerce is now lobbying for national liability protections. But we really see violations of worker’s safety and health playing out in the meat packing industry. Thousands of pages of documents reveal how major meat packing companies like Tyson foods, national beef, Smithfield, and others have failed to protect over 24,000 workers from contracting the coronavirus. Emails and records show how meat packing plants were too slow to implement social distancing measures, install protective barriers and have workers wear masks. Meat packing companies have even used their protective, their power to circumvent recommendations from local health officials. And this has happened in other industries as well. Unfortunately, coronavirus is giving these companies sort of like permission to change the rules and they say that they’re doing it to protect worker, workers, but they’re really not.

Mike Papantonio:             Hmm. Yeah. You’ve always said, Brigida, it’s going to get worse before it gets better. You’re right. Thank you for joining me and let’s continue doing these stories and talk about the beat down of the American worker. Thank you for joining me. Okay.

Brigida Santos:                   Thanks Mike.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.