Perspectives: The Allure — And Traps — Of Big Pharma
Read recent commentaries about drug-cost issues.
Is Sen. Kyrsten Sinema Addicted To Big Pharma's Money?
Every politician, to one degree or another, is an addict. They get hooked on power. The euphoria. The rush. And once they’ve had it, once they’ve felt it, they develop a need to keep it, to maintain it, to increase it. The dependence can become overwhelming. Captivating. Irresistible. But power does not come cheap. And the drug of choice for anyone strung out on political prestige is … money. Last week, with the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package stalled in Congress, Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema went on a fundraising trip to Europe. Nice gig, right? (EJ Montini, 10/17)
San Diego Union-Tribune:
Big Pharma's New Popularity May End Prescription Drug Reform
For decades, few industries in America have been as unpopular as Big Pharma. It’s easy to demonize because prescription drugs cost far more in the United States than in other nations despite the industry’s heavy profits every year. A 2019 House Ways and Means Committee report that noted that the asthma drug Dulera costs $23.95 per dose in the U.S. but averages 49 cents in other nations produced broad outrage. So did the 2015 decision of Turing Pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli to raise the price of the antiparasitic drug Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 per pill after Turing obtained its manufacturing license. At the same time, critics have mocked pharmaceutical companies’ claims that they need strong profits to fund research into breakthrough drugs, noting how much the companies spent to develop anti-baldness drugs and other treatments that were more about human vanity than saving lives. (Chris Reed, 10/15)
Calling Big Pharma’s Bluff And Making Prescription Drugs More Affordable
Bringing down the cost of prescription drugs ought to be ripe for bipartisan cooperation. Members of both parties talk about how drug prices are too high. And seniors don’t see this as a partisan issue—they see it as a dire budget issue, and sometimes even a life-or-death issue. Yet during the previous administration, despite a lot of lip service from President Donald Trump and some of his allies in Congress, nothing got done. In the first half of 2019 alone, the price of 3,400 drugs increased. And despite bipartisan efforts by the Senate Finance Committee, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) refused to bring the committee-passed legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs to the Senate floor for consideration and a vote—yet again choosing to stand on the side of big pharmaceutical corporations over American families. (Sen. Sherrod Brown, 10/19)
Why We Can Have Both Innovative Drugs And Lower Drug Prices
America is the undisputed global leader in drug research and development, and pharmaceutical companies warn that imposing controls on drug prices — like those currently being debated in Congress — will stifle that innovation. But many Americans, including the well insured, cannot afford the innovative drugs produced by that research. Consider the situation faced by Louise (not her real name), who emailed me recently asking about treatment options for her husband’s amyloidosis. Amyloidosis is a rare disease where too much of an abnormal protein invades organs, such as the heart and kidneys, leading to damage and frequently death. She was writing for advice because the doctors recommended a drug called tafamidis that even with their insurance would cost them $25,000 a year as their copay. “We can in no way afford $25,000 a year,” she told me. (Ezekiel Emanuel, 10/13)