You have to give 21st century journalism a round of applause on keeping the cost of pharmaceuticals front and center for America.  Smartphones have all but entirely ruined our attention spans and media companies seemingly race to flash a new headline or “breaking news” as much as possible to keep up.  It feels like a topic gets a spotlight for a day, we binge it, and then it disappears into the abyss of history – gone.  But not drug prices, no.  The headlines might shed light on different aspects of the problem and potential solutions, but the story is ever-present.  For a story to stick like this in these times, you know it’s a glaring problem to say the least. 

Intentional shortages in generic medication supply chains.  Hospital systems consorting to create a non-profit pharmaceutical manufacturing organization.  People buying drugs they need to live, either online or flying internationally out of pure financial desperation.  Check out Rebecca’s story just to get a sense of how dire the situation is for diabetics who need an insulin injection invented almost 100 years ago.

Why?  How can this be? The irony (in which an entire blog post could delve into) is that many Americans scoff at socialized medicine, yet the marketplace for pharmaceuticals operates much more like a capitalist free market in countries with socialized medicine than what Old Glory has to offer its citizens.  There’s only one answer to “Why?” – lobbying.  It’s the legitimized corruption of our government that allows Big Pharma to continue gouging Americans and prop the vail of secrecy that envelops their costs and margins.     

According to OpenSecrets, companies operating in the pharmaceutical and health products sector ponied up north of $194,300,000.00 in 2018 on lobbying efforts.  That’s an average of $363,177.57 per congressperson.  Apparently, that’s all it takes to buy the right to strangle the entire American patient-consumer population. There’s an equally depressing statistic we can derive from the data.  In 2015, Americans spent $325,000,000,000.00 on pharmaceuticals.  That means the pharmaceutical industry only has to spend $1,672 dollars per $1,000,000 in revenue to buy politicians.  I guess you could call that value-based purchasing…..if you are a pharmaceutical company, that is. 

If you remove the political influence Big Pharma gains from lobbying, bills designed to reign in the problem of drug pricing might actually pass. 

We just celebrated Labor Day – a holiday created to celebrate the working person. It’s for the laborers; the people grinding it out each and everyday who deserve better than price gouging from the country they work so hard to keep moving forward.  With Congress back in session, hopefully they can put in an honest day’s labor and have just one employer, The People, to answer to.