First of all, who is is “Big Pharma?” “Big Pharma” consists of quite a few large drug companies that include: Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Merck & Co., Abbott Labs, Eli Lily & Co., Amgen, and Bristol-Myers Squibb, just to name a few.
These drug companies devote themselves to inventing “non-natural molecules” for use in medicine. Why non-natural? Because molecules previously occurring in nature cannot, as a rule, be patented. It is essential to develop a “patentable” medicine. (Hmmm, so those visions of a scientist finding a cure for cancer in the rain forest are really only romantic hopes and dreams? I’m afraid so.) Only a medicine protected by a government patent can hope to recoup the enormous cost of taking a new drug through the government’s approval process. (As usual…, it’s all about the money.)
Getting a new drug through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is very expensive ($1 billion on average). All these financial ties encourage a “wink and a nod” relationship between researchers working for drug companies and regulators, who are often the same people.
So actually, drug companies are not really private companies competing in an open market. They are government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), like Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and the big Wall Street banks and firms. It should not be surprising, therefore, that drug companies spend millions on political lobbying and campaign contributions. Many politicians rely on these campaign contributions and thus have a vested interest in maintaining the drug cartel, even though needlessly high drug costs contribute to soaring medical costs.
Sometimes the relationships are hard to follow. For example, a former powerful senator like Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) may have seemed like he was at odds with Big Pharma, but he consistently collected plentiful campaign contributions. The drug companies are not only interested in rewarding friends; they also want to keep critics from converting their voter friendly talk into action. It’s not easy to find a representative in Congress, or a senator, who is not on Big Pharma’s campaign contribution list.
The same principle applied to President Obama and presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. Their rhetoric was often against Big Pharma. They nobly and forcefully condemned those who “gutted regulations and put industry insiders in charge of oversight.” But they still expected, and received, millions of dollars from drug companies and other special interest support.
How does the media fit into this? Well, since prescription drug advertising was made legal, the biased mainstream media have come to depend on it for survival. Without it, most of the companies, already financially hard pressed, would face potential bankruptcy. So it is not surprising that the biased mainstream media would suppress reporting anything about this ill-gotten money merry-go-round, or even reporting misleading stories (Fake news) to keep We the People off of their trail.
When you hear or read articles, emanating from “the swamp,” about President Trump’s ties to Big Pharma, just take a look at the charts in this article showing presidential campaign contributions from 2015 and 2016. They will tell you everything you need to know.
This ploy of accusing others of what you’re actually doing has become pretty popular. Take Russian collusion for an example, or obstruction of justice. “The swamp” has become very adept at deflecting its sins onto others, and the biased mainstream media is more than happy to play along.
Donald Trump brought attention to campaign donations and lobbying during the presidential campaign. “They get the politicians, and every single one of them is getting money from them,” he said of the drug companies. Bernie Sanders echoed Trump’s sentiment during one of the Democratic debates, asking voters to consider why the price of medication could double, and the government could do nothing to stop it. “There is a reason why these people are putting huge amounts of money into our political system,” he said.
Yes there is, Bernie, yes there is.
Thanks to Martha Rosenberg (AlterNet) and Hunter Lewis for some contributions to this article.