The health care “debate” has been portrayed as Republicans and Democrats valiantly fighting for the interest of American citizens. But as Ron Paul points out, the actual difference amounts to slightly different degrees of government control over health care, all of it stifling free market solutions and driving up costs.
Exhibit A is the recent move by Democrats and Republicans alike to ban the importation of prescription drugs from other countries such as Canada. While the American Health Care Act takes all the headlines, Congress is quietly passing the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017—the framework of the Big Pharma protectionist racket.
As Rolling Stone reports, only a few weeks ago Democrats and Republicans came together to defeat an amendment that “would have allowed for importation of drugs from FDA-approved facilities in Canada.” Senators who supported importation in January suddenly reversed their position, voting no when it seemed the amendment could actually pass. As expected, “no” votes came from senators who receiver copious amounts of money from the pharma lobby.
Every time a lawmaker is pressed on why they vote to deny Americans the ability to get cheaper prescription drugs—a simple free-market solution to outrageously high American drug prices—the lawmakers play the bogus “safety” card. Without providing a fact-based rationale, they simply suggest that we can’t “ensure foreign drugs meet American safety standards.”
The reality is that lots of drugs and drug ingredients are imported from other countries, but only the pharmaceutical industry is allowed to do it, while pharmacists and consumers are banned.
“In fact, an astonishing 40 percent of all pharmaceuticals sold in the United States are already imported, as are 80 percent of the chemical ingredients. These imported drugs and drug ingredients arrive by way of more than 300,000 foreign food and drug manufacturing facilities that are regularly certified as safe by the FDA.It doesn’t take much inspection to discover the blatant, cruel way that Congress protects Big Pharma. President Trump is on board, too. Campaign promises to bring down drug prices for Americans have evaporated, as industry lobbyists have filled his administration. Sure enough, in mid-June it was revealed that the “White House task force [on drug pricing] echoes pharma proposals.”
These drugs come from manufacturing facilities not just in Canada but across the globe, from the first world to the third, sometimes using the same kind of degraded and underpaid labor forces we bemoan in other industries.”
That’s not where it ends, though. The FDA Reauthorization Act is also known as the “user fee” bill because this is where Big Pharma pays FDA for the privilege of fleecing the masses. According to Stat News, the bill “spells out how much branded and generic drug companies and medical device manufacturers pay to support their product reviews at the FDA.”
Several amendments in the “user fee” bill opposed by Big Pharma were shot down, including drug importation, one that would have “kept branded manufacturers from using certain strategies to delay generic drug launches” and another that would “encourage pediatric studies in cancer drugs.”
While federal government gladly intervenes in the functioning of the health care market, lawmakers continually prohibit federal and state governments from negotiating lower prices for bulk purchases. Whatever price the industry wishes for its patented products, it gets.
Hospitals, too, are prevented from getting discount drug prices at the behest of Big Pharma.
“Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, for example, used a recent oversight letter to echo the pharmaceutical industry’s longtime concerns with a controversial drug discount program that largely benefits hospitals. That inquiry may lead to a congressional hearing — one likely to be far better for pharmaceutical companies than hospitals, Republican committee leaders told STAT.”Government has become expert at protecting the financial interests of various industries while pretending to “debate” over the best interests of Americans. This protectionist racket comes at the expense of human health and lives.
The issue was underscored last year when the price for a life-saving injection for children called the EpiPen was hiked to $630, causing a public furor. Other outrageous examples include pills that cost $1,000 in America but only $4 in India.
The public is well aware they are being fleeced, as 77 percent of survey respondents say drug prices are “unreasonable” and 71 percent favor the importation of drugs from Canada.
But public opinion and free market solutions have no place in a system where Big Pharma lobbyists have lawmakers in their pockets. PhRMA (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America) spent $7.9 million in the first three months of 2017, deploying an army of lobbyists and outside firms to Capitol Hill, while individual pharma companies spent $20 million during the same period.
“That spending doesn’t count campaign donations, either. The website OpenSecrets, maintained by the Center for Responsive Politics, estimates the industry gave about $27.9 million to candidates on both sides of the aisle during the 2016 cycle.”In the coming days we will be inundated with partisan nonsense over Obamacare and Obamacare 2.0, while the real scheme orchestrated by the corporatocracy is already set in motion.