America’s Lawyer E15: So far this year, drug companies have raised their prices nearly TWELVE HUNDRED times this year alone – just because they can. We’ll tell you how this impacts your healthcare. The Church of Scientology is trying to get rape charges against an actor and member dismissed by the Supreme Court so the public doesn’t pay attention to the growing scandals of the group. We’ll bring you the details. And Cuba has had some amazing breakthroughs with Alzheimer’s research and treatment – while US firms were caught phonying data for two decades. We’ll explain what’s happening. All that, and more is coming up, so don’t go anywhere – America’s Lawyer starts right now.

Transcript:

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

Mike Papantonio:             Hi, I’m Mike Papantonio and this is America’s Lawyer. So far this year, drug companies have raised their prices nearly 1200 times, just this year alone, just because they can. We’ll tell you how that impacts healthcare. And the Church of Scientology is trying to get rape charges against an actor and member dismissed by the Supreme Court so the public doesn’t pay attention to the growing scandals around that cult. We’ll bring you the details. And Cuba, well, they’ve done some amazing breakthroughs with Alzheimer’s research and treatment while the US firms are caught phonying up data for decades. We’ll explain what’s happening. All that and more is coming up. Don’t go anywhere. America’s Lawyer starts right now.

A new analysis has revealed that drug companies have raised their prices roughly 1200 times so far, just this year. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins joins me to talk about what’s happening and many other issues. Farron, when you hear those kinds of numbers, you go, how in the world does it happen? Well, obviously it happens because we have a government that won’t do what they’re supposed to do, because they’re getting so much money in political contributions. The political comp, let’s see it’s the weapons industry and then the pharma industry.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah.

Mike Papantonio:             I mean, the highest.

Farron Cousins:                  And what’s, you know, disturbing about this, when you break that number down even more, you know, 1200 so far this year in the first six months, we’re talking about three times per day, every day, you know, weekends included. They don’t take holidays. But three times a day, one drug in the United States is seeing its price being raised. So every eight hours, big pharma is raising the prices on at least one drug here in the United States.

Mike Papantonio:             Let me give you some examples. Pfizer with their leukemia drug, it’s a life saving drug and it, it’s $21,000 per vile. And Congress for decades now has done nothing about it. We’re starting to see some activity now, but even what they’re coming up with right now, doesn’t solve the problem. Congress is saying, well, we, we’re, you know, we’re coming here to, to, to fix the prices. No, they’re not. If this bill passes that they’re talking about, all it does is allows Medicare to negotiate. That’s it. No other, no other insurance entity can negotiate with these prices.

Farron Cousins:                  Right. And, and what’s gonna happen as a result of that is that the drug companies will just raise the prices even more for people with private insurance or no insurance.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  To make up the difference. So while it is good, obviously that, yeah, we’re, we’re doing something about it. It certainly is not enough. Because again, with Medicare, you’re talking about the 65 and older crowd, you’re gonna see possibly if this ever passes, which it probably won’t, you’re gonna see some reduction on some of the drugs, as long as they’ve been out on the market, you know.

Mike Papantonio:             11 years, yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  11 years at this point. And the markups, the really bad ones are usually with those blockbuster brand new drugs, which can run yearly doses when they first roll out hundreds of thousands a year.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay. GSK, for example, has a lupus drug. They charge $4,000, $4,000 every time you get a prescription for this, for this lupus drug. They have been on the market a long time. They have been one of the examples that’s been in front of Congress, Pfizer, Merck, all these companies, they’ve, they’ve seen where there, there’s been, what 2000, 2000% markups on these drugs.

Farron Cousins:                  Yep.

Mike Papantonio:             That’s all been presented to Congress for decades now. And the most decade that, that this Congress is willing to say is, well, we’re gonna allow Medicare to negotiate, but they can’t negotiate if the drug hasn’t been on the market for 11 years, or if it’s a newly approved drug that can kill people, just the same any, as any other drug. They can charge whatever they want. This is not gonna solve the problem, is it?

Farron Cousins:                  Right. And the drug companies tell us, well, we do this because we gotta recoup research and development costs.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  The bulk of the spending on new drugs in the United States is actually spent on advertising, not on research and development where 75 or more percent of it.

Mike Papantonio:             80%, 80% is for advertising.

Farron Cousins:                  Well, and, and about 75 to 80% of the funding for the research itself comes from taxpayers.

Mike Papantonio:             Oh, I see.

Farron Cousins:                  So as I always say, we pay for our drugs twice.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  We pay for it with our tax dollars and we pay for it at the pharmacy.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. Nevertheless, everybody just rocks on like there’s no problem here at Congress. Yeah, we’ll take your political money. That’s what it’s about.

CEO pay is now 324 times higher than the average worker pay, one of the largest gaps to ever hit us in American history. For example, I just, you know, there’s examples all over. Andrew Jassy, you know what his CEO pay was last year, $212 million. It was six, almost 7,000 times higher than what the workers are getting. That’s the state of American capitalism right now.

Farron Cousins:                  And this is happening at companies like Amazon, Netflix. What are some of the, Expedia, JP Morgan, Intel, Etsy, Adobe, Apple, all of the big name companies that people recognize they are screwing over their workers is the only way to put it, while giving themselves hundreds of times more than what they’re paying these workers. And, and I, I will point out, you know, you and I have been doing stories on this for God, almost two decades. And back then it was about 213 times what the CEO made compared to the worker. And at that time we were talking about how horrendous this was. Well now we’re up to 324 times.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. Well here, here’s what’s interesting. The average salary for a CEO, what, what do you think it is? Well, eight, $18 million, the average salary. Now it doesn’t make any difference if the company is on the ropes financially. It doesn’t make any difference whether they’re doing a terrible, Netflix, for example, my God, they’re losing subscribers in droves. Nevertheless, this guy’s paid $40 million a year to run Netflix. So I mean, there’s no rhyme or reason to it. It, it’s not as if we’re gonna give these CEOs more money and we’re gonna do better. It doesn’t work like that. The CEO has control over the board. The board is, is chosen primarily by the CEO. He brings in friends, people that he’s worked around for years, those are the board members. And then the board members go from company to company, to company and they get paid every, on every board that they’re participating in. Did I get that right?

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah. And, and, and there’s been plenty of reports over the years that show most of these corporate boards share at least one member with another board.

Mike Papantonio:            Yes.

Farron Cousins:                  So you know, the New York Times, the people who sit on that board, some of them also sit on these corporate boards.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  Same thing with other media outlets. You’ve got big pharma boards also sitting with chemical company boards. And at the same time, we’re watching this skyrocketing CEO pay. Average worker wages have actually gone down 2.4% adjusted for inflation in the last year.

Mike Papantonio:             You know, that issue about boards, they, there’s finding that these boards are now heavily loaded with media magnates, the, the, the moguls. Load ’em up with the media moguls. That way if we make a drug that kills thousands of people, the media is still gonna act like nothing’s wrong. They’re not gonna report the story. If it’s a weapons issue, you’re gonna have the media behind trying to promote wars like the war in Ukraine. My God, it looks like, you turn on the media every day, it looks like a celebration that we’re in war, that we’re involved with Ukraine. So I mean, these board members, it’s very politically astute to do what they’ve done and it’s killing American, literally killing American consumers.

Amazon is getting into the healthcare business by purchasing a group of medical clinics. Whoa, this is, soon as I saw this, I said, wow, this is gonna go bad fast. Give me your take.

Farron Cousins:                  You know, it, it is funny mentioning the media. The Wall Street Journal is hyping this up like, oh my God, what a great day for healthcare.

Mike Papantonio:             I saw that.

Farron Cousins:                  Because Amazon, one of the worst corporate abusers in the country, is gonna be taking over what, 180 medical clinics across the country.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  I mean, something has to be done, is my initial reaction. You can’t just allow this corporate behemoth to, to sell you everything from toilet paper to prescription drugs, to, you know, web services for the United States military. This is nuts that we’re just letting Amazon take everything over. Oh and by the way, he also owns the Washington Post.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. Well, this virtue signaling that Amazon’s doing is really repulsive. Their virtue signaling is, well, we wanna reinvent medical care because the elderly aren’t getting their medical care they need. And our employees aren’t getting the medical care they need. You think? Because you’re not providing it. But at any rate, they, really what they want to do, it’s all about tying in to that $4 trillion healthcare, that’s what’s spent in healthcare every year, four, $4 trillion. That’s what it’s all about. So as you said, 180 medical offices, 25 US markets gonna be affected by it, for 8,000 companies. They’re going to be looking to bring in 8,000 companies into their umbrella, to where they say, we’ll take care of your employees the same way we take care of our employees.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah. And, and, and what’s crazy is the relatively low purchase price of this, $3 billion. I mean, for a company that’s worth hundreds of billions.

Mike Papantonio:             Mm-hmm.

Farron Cousins:                  You’re paying 3 billion.

Mike Papantonio:             Mm-hmm.

Farron Cousins:                  To tap into the $4 trillion market. It’s gonna be a wonderful return on investment.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  For Amazon shareholders. But for everybody else, it’s gonna degrade the quality of healthcare and it’s gonna put more people, most likely getting prescriptions they don’t need. So Amazon who apparently three years ago got into the prescription drug market.

Mike Papantonio:             Right. I was just gonna say.

Farron Cousins:                  Can sell them their drugs right to their door in an hour.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. This, this is nothing but a train wreck ready to happen.

The Church of Scientology is desperate to prevent the public from learning about their dirtiest secrets and there are a lot of them. Every time I look at a Scientology story, my first reaction is A, what in the world are we doing giving them a tax break for a cult? It is a cult of crazy people. That’s what we have here. So what do they, what’s their latest thing now?

Farron Cousins:                  You’ve got Danny Masterson who most people recognize from That ’70s Show, couple years ago was arrested. Multiple women accused him of rape. So he is awaiting charges. But the Church of Scientology says, well, hold up now, because the women who have accused him were also in Scientology. They’re no longer in Scientology. And we have a very strict policy that says, if you accuse anybody of anything, you have to go to our arbitrators.

Mike Papantonio:             Mm-hmm.

Farron Cousins:                  So you cannot sue him in court. You cannot file these criminal charges. You have to go to basically the, the judge of Scientology

Mike Papantonio:             Arbitration.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. We want you to come before our judge because that’s what you signed up for. And let me tell you something. If the Supreme Court allows this, it busts open the idea of arbitration. Arbitration is already taking away people’s rights. But if SCOTUS says, yeah, you know, you signed that, we’re gonna allow the, we’re gonna allow the, the Scientology judges to determine what happens here.

Farron Cousins:                  That, that is absolutely terrifying because as you pointed out, we, we already have other countries, actually Russia led the way on this.

Mike Papantonio:             Mm-hmm.

Farron Cousins:                  Saying we’re not gonna recognize you as an actual religion anymore.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  Because you’re, you’re not legitimate. There’s nothing religious about you. This is, as Russia defined it, this is a cult.

Mike Papantonio:             It’s absolutely cult. Well, I mean, let’s call it what it is. You had L. Ron Hubbard, which the guy was, he was pursued all over the world for fraud, wire, wire fraud, every kind of fraud you can imagine. L. Ron Hubbard had to live his life on a ship. That his ship was his headquarters where he signed, where sailed all, all around the world because he was a fraud. And you know what I think is most interesting is the headquarters, the biggest headquarters is Hemet, California. They, you know, if you look at all, why did you go to California? Well, because we thought we could get a lot of people in our cult in California. That seems to be true. As I look at this story, they the, did you see the thing with the e-meter? The, the.

Farron Cousins:                  I, I’m familiar with those. It’s, it’s.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. The, the e-meter is this electric testing with the, that they bring in people like, Leah Remini, you know, she has the TV show.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah.

Mike Papantonio:             She, she left the cult. She’s the one that’s exposing the cult for all the crazies that are out there. But, but the e-meter is a way that they would, they would put you with an e-meter and you would have an auditor and the auditor tests your skin. And the auditor then makes up ideas of what you’re thinking about. You’re thinking about leaving Scientology. You’re thinking about this. And these people are so impressionable when they’re tested that they walk out of there thinking, oh my God, I have all of these problems. And then if the e-meter doesn’t go well, then they put ’em in the hole. The hole is a place where they, it’s, it’s a place of punishment where they keep ’em there until they come around and be a good Scientologist.

Farron Cousins:                  Well, you know, people love to compare the, the US government to big brother from 1984. But this, what you’re describing here is literally from 1984.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  Putting people in these little torture chambers until they believe the things that they are supposed to believe. And, and it goes far beyond just this Danny Masterson rape case with the Church of Scientology.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  There’s some great law firms out there that are representing victims, who claim that they were recruited as children, trafficked, basically.

Mike Papantonio:             Trafficked. Yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  And, and forced to work slave labor on some of these, you know, the boats that you’re talking about, getting into engine tanks without any protective gear and scrubbing it at six years old.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. Farron, I had to learn a lot about ’em because we, we, clients would call us one, one in particular, one client called, she had, St. Clearwater, Florida they have a big Scientology organization and she was held captive. Could not leave the building. Her family couldn’t get her out of there. Her lawyers couldn’t get her out of there. Held captive. And you know, the truth is part of being held captive is they take all the person’s assets, too. They tell the person, you may not communicate with anybody who is not part of us, our Scientology organization. That happened to this woman. All of her assets were stolen from her. She was put in this confinement in place right there in St. Petersburg. And what they would do is they, they actually have monitors that follow these people around, even on the grounds, they have locked doors, places they can’t go. They have internet filtering. They have telephone filtering. And so the point is ,who in the hell says, yeah, this is a good idea? Apparently, California. It is the home and this epicenter for the Scientologist. I’m, I’m looking for the case. I, I’m, I’m simply looking for the case to bust these people up in a big way. And I, we may be onto one right now.

The Wisconsin attorney general is trying to hold more than a dozen companies accountable for poisoning citizens in the state with PFAS chemicals. You and I have done this story again and again. I don’t know, here again, how often do you see this story covered in the media?

Farron Cousins:                  Oh, never. This was a blurb kind of in the Chicago Sun Times. Had it not been for that I wouldn’t have seen it anywhere.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay. You know why that is? 3M is one of the ugly ugliest. DuPont is one of the companies that we dealt with. We dealt with them up in the Ohio River Valley. But the truth is, 3M has contaminated water to where people, people, they don’t understand that this stuff will kill you. It causes cancer. It causes birth defects. And everybody, even if I were to tell, I was with some folks this weekend, they were, they were talking about, well, we just got this notice about PFAS in our water, think everything’s okay. No, everything is not okay. I mean, give me your take on it. You followed this story as much as I have.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah. I mean, look, this, this is, it’s in my body right now. It’s in your body. 98% of people watching this, it’s in your body right now and it’s bioaccumulative. It’s going to build up over time.

Mike Papantonio:             Mm-hmm.

Farron Cousins:                  So what this Wisconsin attorney general is doing here is, is really trying to get his state to do what other states have done and say, listen, we’ve gotta hold these people accountable. It’s 16 companies, 3M, Tyco Fire, BASF, all these other companies as well saying, you guys knew you were poisoning us. You told nobody.

Mike Papantonio:             Right.

Farron Cousins:                  You let it happen.

Mike Papantonio:             Worst yet, the media kept it secret.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah.

Mike Papantonio:             The DOJ, the DOJ, we gave our information that we had in the Ohio River Valley to the DOJ. They have all of that information. Nobody’s been prosecuted. Nobody has, there’s been no meaningful criminal investigation that has followed the money here to where we know they’ve known about this for 50 years, they’ve been getting away with. US Chamber of Commerce. Everybody thinks, oh, the US Chamber of Commerce is mom and pop, they’re, they’re out there for us. No. US Chamber of Commerce. If you look at their board, they’re heavily heavily 3M folks. So the US Chamber of Commerce started a campaign to say, ah, this is not that bad. Don’t worry about PFAS. Every scientist that studied this said, it’s a killer. And even when you tell people it’s in your drinking water, that your kids are drinking it, it’s like, it’s like a yawn moment. It’s like when we post this and we talk about, you know, when this segment is posted and you compare this segment and, and, and the numbers of people coming through to look at this segment compared to a political segment, won’t be a comparison. And we’re talking about stuff that’ll kill you.

Farron Cousins:                  Right. Exactly, and that is part of the problem is getting the public to actually care about these things that are in your body that will kill you. And the steps you, you know, hopefully might be able to take, to encourage your politicians to do something about it.

Mike Papantonio:             How, how about your local, how about your local water facility?

Farron Cousins:                  Right.

Mike Papantonio:             Demand, I wanna see how much PFAS in our water. I mean, a lot of this stuff is, goes undisclosed.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah. And, and that’s what people need to do. You have to take action because your life could be at stake here.

Mike Papantonio:             Oh, there’s no question.

The United States is falling dangerously behind in medical research as other companies make tremendous progress. Farron, this story about the Cub, about Cuba drugs, Cuban drugs that really are making a difference in Alzheimer’s disease. Now we compare that to what happened with GenTech and what happened with Biogen, GenTech and Biogen lied to the American public for a decade. They said, we have this great Alzheimer’s drug. The, even, even the clinicals were phonied up. But we know the Cubans, the Cuban drug really does work. I mean, there’s, the clinicals are, are first of all, they’re honest, nothing phonied up and it’s working.

Farron Cousins:                  Right.

Mike Papantonio:             Give me your take on it.

Farron Cousins:                  The, Cuba is now in phase four.

Mike Papantonio:             Yes.

Farron Cousins:                  Of their drug trials for this Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s drug, because it’s showing that, hey, it’s stopping, it is stopping brain deterioration and helping people actually improve their cognitive functions.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  That is amazing. They’re almost, I mean, I don’t want to give too much hope here, but it seems like they’re almost reversing these, these conditions.

Mike Papantonio:             If you read the, if you read the articles, you, you, you certainly looks like that.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah. And then we, as you said, contrast this to the US, which by the way, both of these stories came out within about 48 hours of each other.

Mike Papantonio:             Mm-hmm.

Farron Cousins:                  And nobody connected them.

Mike Papantonio:             No.

Farron Cousins:                  But the US, 20 years, our drug companies that we are funding through the National Institute of Health using taxpayer dollars.

Mike Papantonio:             Mm-hmm.

Farron Cousins:                  It’s so, the phoning up was so bad, they weren’t just lying about the results, they were Photoshopping their own images of people’s brains.

Mike Papantonio:             Yes.

Farron Cousins:                  To show, oh, look, it got better.

Mike Papantonio:             Yes.

Farron Cousins:                  And then they finally looked and said, wait a minute, you just took a picture of a healthy brain and cut out that part and glued it on top.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay. There’s a reason for all this. Okay. And there, we have a 99% failure rate with American, 99%, with American companies that are saying, we’re solving this problem. First of all, they started off with a lie. That, that’s where this all begins.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah.

Mike Papantonio:             The big lie started off with phonied up research that was coming that said, look, if we can deal with the amyloid problem and the plaque problem, if we can reduce the amyloid problem in the brain and the plaque problem in the brain, we’re gonna cure it. They found out, no, that’s not even, it’s not even accurate. They were said, we, we have a drug because we have reduced plaques and we have reduced the amyloid problem, but it had nothing to do in the long run with Alzheimer’s.

Farron Cousins:                  Right. So they developed these drugs that attacked these issues that were not the issues.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  And honest to God, the difference here, because it’s not just Cuba, who also, by the way, has a lung cancer vaccine that we’re in the US not allowed to take. So they’ve got this, they’ve got the Parkinson’s treatment, the Alzheimer’s. South Korea has become a leader in medical develop. China, China has taken over.

Mike Papantonio:             Mm-hmm.

Farron Cousins:                  It’s because we are profit driven here in the United States. We let big profits, so instead of tackling the real diseases, what are our drug companies doing? We’ll look at the ads on TV. Are you moving your leg a little too much while you sleep? Here’s $500 a month for this drug. It’ll stop your leg movement. Are your eyes a little too scratchy every now and then?

Mike Papantonio:             Mm-hmm.

Farron Cousins:                  Those are the problems we’re tackling while the rest of the world.

Mike Papantonio:             It’s low, it’s called low, corporate low hanging fruit.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay. And, and here’s, here’s one big difference. When, the best article that I saw that analyzed this, they said, look, there’s a research gap in America that there’s not in some of these other companies, in other countries like Cuba, because the, the, the research is driven by government. Government is hands on, on that research. Academic institutions are hands on with that research. And, and then they tie up the idea that if we compare our kind of what, what you, what you would call is the stem system of education, where they, they, they found out now we don’t, we don’t, we don’t, teach calculus. We don’t teach the kind of advanced biology that people need to have in school. We’ve cut back all of our hard, hard sciences for the most part in public schools. And these, the, the list of comparisons between why we’re, we are where we are in the United States with corporate driven research versus government slash education driven research is a big difference. Isn’t it?

Farron Cousins:                  Well, and, and these big pharmaceutical companies go out there, they headhunt these individuals, the, the smart folks, the scientists, and they say, hey, listen, you’ve got a very promising career ahead of you. How would you like to come make $300,000 a year, fresh outta school with your PhD? Uh, but instead of working on cancer, how about you work on this, you know, a new antacid for us.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  We, we, we know there’s a lot of heartburn medications, but you work on this one, we’ll pay you a lot of money, you’re gonna be fine.

Mike Papantonio:             But, and the end result, we’re seeing more and more. It’s kinda like the chickens have come home to roost. Okay. And the end result is we’re seeing a disaster where it comes to performance of drug after drug, medical device after medical device. And it needs to be rethought. Farron, thanks for joining me. Okay.

Farron Cousins:                  Thank you.

Mike Papantonio:             That’s for this week. But all these segments are gonna be available this coming week, right here on this channel. And you can follow us on Twitter, you can follow us @AmericasLawyer. I’m Mike Papantonio and this has been America’s Lawyer where every week we try to tell you the stories that corporate media won’t tell you because their advertisers won’t allow for it and sometimes their political connections won’t allow for it. So we try to avoid all that. We call balls and strikes here. There is no side. There is no Democrat side. There’s no Republican side. It is balls and strikes. It’s not for everybody, but we hope you enjoy it. We’ll see you next time.

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.