Pharmaceutical giant Merck is suing the federal government so that they can continue to price gouge American consumers. Merck is angry about legislation that would require them to lower the cost of just a handful of their drugs covered by Medicare because they want to squeeze as much money as possible out of sick people. Mike Papantonio & Farron Cousins discuss more.


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

Mike Papantonio: Pharmaceutical giant Merck is suing the federal government so they can continue to price gouge American consumers. Merck is really mad about legislation that would require them to lower the cost of a handful of their drugs covered by Medicare because they wanna squeeze every dime outta sick people. So here’s, their argument is that it violates their First Amendment to be able to say you’re price, I mean, they ought to have a First Amendment and a Fifth Amendment right, this is their argument, constitutionally they should have a First Amendment and Fifth Amendment right to price gouge. Right? And I guess to lie, because in order to get there, they have to lie. It’s a $14 billion profit they made last year and they say that’s not enough. We can’t do research and development with only a $14 billion profit. We can’t give enough to the CEOs and to management. Right?

Farron Cousins: Exactly. And the lawyer, this is such a stupid argument that I think even somebody fresh outta law school on day one would be able to tear this apart because this legislation does not set the prices. And by the way, that is what the lawyers say. They say, oh, the legislation is setting prices and you can’t do that. Okay. Well it doesn’t. It actually, the legislation says you have to negotiate.

Mike Papantonio: Negotiate. It doesn’t, that is the fine point to the entire argument. First of all, the people, I think this is like a sub-story. The people making this argument is the Jones Day Law Firm. Read this book, this book that’s up on the screen in order to understand, in order to understand a level of corruption, a level of ugly that will make your skin crawl, you have got to read this book. And then you understand why Merck loves Jones Day. You know, why would they hire Jones Day? Because they’re just like Jones Day. And so if you look at this story, I mean, you gotta read this book. I don’t wanna say anything beyond that. Read the book. It lays it out about Jones Day Law Firm. I don’t have to say it, it’s right there in the book. But the idea of Merck hiring them to do this, to make this ridiculous argument, makes perfect sense to me.

Farron Cousins: Oh, it absolutely does. And listen, Merck is not even required to negotiate all of their drug prices. It’s just a couple of them covered under Medicare and they’re still gonna make an astronomical profit. And even with the Jones Day argument, it makes me so mad because I’m not a lawyer and I can pick it apart. That’s how bad they are at this right now. Because they say.

Mike Papantonio: Well, they know it. They, look, they got bright lawyers. They have some of the smartest lawyers that ever graduate.

Farron Cousins: But you’re defending the indefensible. So you have to be stupid.

Mike Papantonio: Right. I mean, at the end of this Jones Day gets to say, wow, we had a big victory here. We kept sick people from getting a better deal on pharmaceuticals, people who were dying. We had a great day because we kept Merck from, we allowed Merck to avoid having to negotiate for lower prices. Isn’t that a big victory? Sit around the kitchen table, hey kids, what’d you do? What did I do today? Well, let me tell you what I did. Wow.

Farron Cousins: You see all those sick people out there, they don’t get to get insulin because of what daddy did at work today. That’s what they have to tell their kids.

Mike Papantonio: Read the book. I mean, just read the book. Take it on yourself. I think it’s a, I think the book is important, not just because it’s about Jones Day, but it lays out kind of what the entire civil justice process is looking like right now. It’s worth reading for that reason alone.

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.