1/06/2012

How Big Pharma Increases Health Care Costs

I get a lot of valuable information from my various conversations on Google+.

One gentleman whose insights I particularly value is Keith Keber. Keith is a real thinker, and although in some respects he seems to be somewhat left of center, we’ve conducted several interesting conversations and debates, and regardless of whether we agree or disagree, he conducts himself in an intelligent and respectful way, and I’m always happy to read his opinions.

Keith opines:
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- “Few have analyzed the source of private financial support for the Internet Censorship Act (my own pet name for the bill), but I would venture that Big Pharma has spent more on it than Big Entertainment. Here are some familiar names from the House Judiciary Committee on SOPA/PIPA corporate supporters:
Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP)
Pfizer, Inc
Elsevier (as a proxy for Merck)
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)

Drug companies have seen the writing on the wall for SOPA and have begun circulating yet another bill to restrict American (and ONLY American) patients from accessing cheaper generics (and OTC drugs as well) from legitimate offshore pharmacies. This time, their Congressional avatars are Diane Feinstein (D-CA); Chuck Schumer (D-NY); Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and John Cornyn (R-TX). Together, last month those "representatives" introduced the so-called "Online Pharmacy Safety Act of 2011" (S.2002) or as I call it, the "Gouge American Patients Act of 2011".
It is bad enough when public officials take it upon themselves to protect us from ourselves... it is a MILLION times worse when the officials scheme to pass that bogus "authority" to private industry.

Here is the meat part. It creates a blacklist of pharmacies that don't have a physical presence in the U.S., and who can thus sell generic equivalents of expensive brand name drugs because they are not subject to U.S. patent law. So U.S. pharmaceutical companies get their cake and eat it too— they can sell the generic equivalent in nations that don't protect their patent, while simultaneously forcing Americans to pay premium prices for their brand name drugs.
Sec. 510A(b) of the bill proclaims, "Establishment of Registry- The Secretary shall establish a Registry of Legitimate Online Pharmacy Websites (referred to in this section as the ‘Registry’) for the purpose of educating consumers and promoting public health and safety."
The succeeding text then goes on to define that the only "legitimate" online pharmacies are 1) accredited by the United States National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (a trade group controlled by pharmaceutical companies for which foreign nations, like, say, Canada have equal standards certification organizations), 2) exist only within the boundaries of the United States, subject to FDA rules (all written by pharmaceutical companies); and 3) must have a pharmacy address within U.S. borders, registered with the appropriate U.S. agencies.

I like to use Plavix (generic: Clopidogrel) as an example. It's a blood thinner prescribed to heart patients. They usually take one 75 mg pill per day. It is cheapest to buy the drug in 100-pill purchases.
U.S. Costco pharmacy's least expensive amount per pill: $7.20.
CanadaPharmacyOnline Clopidogrel price per pill: $.70 (bought in a 200-pill purchase).
Yes, that is NOT a typo— seventy CENTS per pill. Less than one-tenth what it costs in the best discount pharmacy in America.
Icing on the cake? The greatest proportion of Americans who take Plavix are elderly, often covered by Medicare alone and on fixed income. Knowing this MUST make people wonder exactly how much of the tax dollars they spend on such "entitlements" is wasted by laws such as S.2002. Perhaps not 90%, as in this case. How about 80%? 75%? 60%?
Imagine if we could cut Medicare costs by 50%, simply by removing the privileges bought by such incredibly (understatement is kind) imprudent legislation.”
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This is the kind of "regulation" that I find extremely troublesome. I'm not opposed to regulation - but the process sure could be more transparent.

Here is the actual text of S.2002, the Online Pharmacy Safety Act:
http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-s2002/text


Pay special attention to the unsupported "findings" section.  Ask yourself why US healthcare costs are exploding. It’s an example of lobbyist - influenced big government being your worst possible enemy. If Mom and Pop could understand what their wonderful government is doing to them, they’d be revolting in the streets with Molotov cocktails.

Thanks to Keith and others like him for helping to expose the hypocritical, money driven corruption that drives much of the legislation in Congress.