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Monday, November 16, 2009

A DEADLY PRESCRIPTION PROFIT OVERDOSE

"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.

9 comments:

TomCat said...

Jack, are you suggesting that the sick should not be held hostage to the benefit of America's richest corporations? How unpatriotic of you. ;-)

Jack Jodell said...

Yeah, I guess that means I should be on Guantanamo with all the other undemocratic terrorists, huh? :-)

Manifesto Joe said...

Jack, we seem to think along very similar lines. I got up after a long night at work Sunday night to post something on same subject Monday afternoon. Felt like I just had to!

Jack Jodell said...

Manifesto Joe,
Great minds DO think alike! :) I just read your post and it is superb. You did a fabulous job debunking the myths of the profiteers in this industry. I'm in agreement with you on the need for a single-payer system and I love your quote on taking the profit out of medicine so much that I'm adding it to the top of this post. Thank you, my good man!

MadMike said...

I am a victim of those rising drug prices Jack. I found out when my insurance company decided they would no longer pay for drugs that were outside of a designated price range. There was no notice of this policy change. They just one day decided not to cover them. As a result I ended up paying full price for one of the three drugs I take and being forced to use generics for the other others.

I have thought about buying my drugs from Canada but don't know how that works with insurance. Great post btw.

Jack Jodell said...

MadMike,
Sorry about the problem you encountered. I doubt your insurance company would pay for Canadian imports. Now unemployed and unable to afford or even get insurance (I'm one of those 47 mil with a "pre-existing condition", i unfortunately pay cash for all my prescriptions. That's what led me to try Canada. We should just do away with the greedy, profiteering insurance companies altogether. They are parasites sucking us dry anyway.BRING ON A SINGLE-PAYER SYSTEM!!!

Tim Fleming said...

Jack--

Well-researched and well-put. Plutocracy is the system we live under, whether we call it that or not. Isn't it remarkable how well the 1% who own 99% of the wealth in this country can control the 99%who own 1% of the wealth? Those with all the money have so thoroughly propagandized the have-nots that people like you and me are being called communists, socialists and traitors for even daring to suggest we live in a plutocracy.

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

Well TC, Jack... y'all be sure to stop by my place for a farewell drink on your way to Gitmo! :-) Jack, I really appreciate this post... myself, I can't afford the care to get the prescriptions I know I need for my blood pressure. Yet! I am working with some good supplements. Still... it's a worry, ya know?

Guys... I think we are all doing the best we can right now. From my perspective, it's a time of great change whether the politics will bend to it or not...seems so with Obama's election. Keeping the faith is bumpy road, eh? Good post Jack!

Jack Jodell said...

Tim,
I read you loud and clear. It's maddening to see how many people are duped into opposing measures which would level the playing field more and benefit all but the very wealthy. Those ultra wealthy 1% must be doubled over in laughter at the blind stupidity of the dittoheads they are manipulating. That's why we progressives have to keep making our points every day, so that little by little people will begin to understand what's really going on. For we are indeed a plutocracy, and that must change.
---------------
Thanks, Gwendolyn. As Manifesto Joe so wisely says, it's time to take the profit out of medicine. Blood pressure is a VERY important thing to keep under control, and most BP meds don't cost an arm and a leg like anti-cholesterol ones can. So DO keep an eye on that BP, sister---lots of things can be aggravated by high BP, and we in the blogosphere don't want to lose ya or see that strong voice diminished. And your point about Obama is well taken: keeping the faith has been a bumpy road. But unlike 11 months ago, at least today we have SOME faith to keep!