"Let's take the profit motive OUT OF MEDICINE!"
- Manifesto Joe, Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues -
"Tax the very wealthy to make everyone healthy!"
- Vigilante, Sozadee, CA -
A disturbing piece by Duff Wilson has just appeared in the NY Times explaining how the nation's greedy, profit-obsessed pharmaceutical companies have sneakily raised prices on their brand name drugs a whopping 9% at the wholesale level over the past year, even as the Consumer Price Index has FALLEN 1.3% in the same period. This is significant because roughly 78% of all prescriptions sold are brand-name drugs.
Stephen Schondelmeyer, a professor of pharmaceutical economics at the University of Minnesota, has done cost analyses of the drug industry for AARP, the nation's premier advocacy lobbying group for the aged. He has compiled this data, which has been backed up by other Wall Street analysts. He is critical of this increase, as well he should be. Harvard economist Joseph Newhouse found similar increases happened as drug benefits were added to Medicare in 2006. He has said that such increases usually do occur in the face of new health industry legislation. But are they justiofied? Hardly.
Ken Johnson, the senior Vice President of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America trade organization, dismisses Schondelmeyer's criticisms and report as being politically motivated. Yet the numbers speak for themselves, Mr. Johnson, and they say you lie. Industry claims that these price increases are necessary to keep profits at a level needed to sustain proper research and development for new drugs, which is indeed a costly process, lose credibility when you consider that nearly 30% of new drug research and development costs are offset by us consumers and taxpayers in the form of federal tax breaks and subsidies. What these increased prices REALLY pay for are the ever-rising and exorbitant salaries paid pharmaceutical board members and the lavish marketing campaigns now employed constantly on TV to sell new and even established prescription drugs to consumers. That's why we are constantly bombarded with totally aggravating TV ads for Viagra, Levitra, Cialis, Zytec, Boniva, Lamisil, Crestor, and so many others. 30 years ago, far less costly and much less pervasive advertising was done not to consumers, but to physicians, as it should be. This push-pull marketing technique to get us to ask our physicians for specific brand name drugs is something WE are paying for - dearly - in the form of ever-higher prices. This is absolute nonsense!
Speaking of exorbitant industry annual salaries, I focused on the top 10 pharmaceutical CEO members' salaries in my August 17, 2009 post, "Top 10 Reasons Your Prescriptions Cost So Much", and, just as a brief reminder:
No. 1 was Bill Weldon of Johnson & Johnson at $29,500,000
No. 2 was Miles White of Abbott, at $28,300,000
No. 3 was Bernard Poussot of Wyeth at $25,000,000, and
No. 10 was John Lechleiter of Eli Lilly at $13,000,000.
Remember, everybody, these are just CEO salaries. Other board members were also paid salaries nearly as enormous. Such salaries are wholly unjustifiable and indefensible in a country where millions of people are now out of work, without health insurance, or are seniors on fixed incomes.
This industry increase occurs as pharmaceutical companies make a lot of ballyhoo about their voluntary pledge to cut 8% per year over the next ten years off the prices of prescription drugs as their way of complying with the spirit of proposed new health care reform legislation. It is as deceiving as a retailer who marks up his $500 suits to $600 overnight, and then the next day trumpets a "huge $100 off SALE!" As all of us know, this is just a dog and pony show these greedy manufacturers are putting on, as their price rises amply prove.
I CURRENTLY BUY AS MANY OF MY PRESCRIPTIONS AS I CAN ONLINE FROM CANADA, WHERE MY NET COST, EVEN WITH POSTAGE, IS SLIGHTLY MORE THAN HALF OF WHAT IS CHARGED HERE. I URGE YOU TO DO SO AS WELL. They are the exact same drugs manufactured by the exact same American manufacturers as you find here, but at roughly half the price. That, in itself, is a strong argument for a Canadian-style, single-payer health care system!
We Americans are getting a deadly prescription profit overdose from our piggish pharmaceutical industry which is killing our businesses, bankrupting our elderly and chronically ill, and benefitting ONLY very greedy and very overpaid business executives. Conservatives, Republicans, and a number of blue dog Democrats oppose a public option for health care which would exert strong downward pressure on drug prices. They obviously believe corporate profits are far more important than affordability of needed drugs for us taxpayers. Does this make sense to you? It certainly doesn't to me, and that's why these fools must be driven out of office and replaced by progressives in 2010!
Take a good loook at this...it's a picture of your personal and your company's hard-earned money being stolen by greedy wealthy pharmaceutical industry board members for their obscenely high salaries, bonuses, and profits.