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Drugs and Privilege: Big Business, Congress and the EpiPen


#1

Drugs and Privilege: Big Business, Congress and the EpiPen

Michael Winship

Cash and carry has become nothing more than standard operating procedure in politics and government, and it’s wrecking the republic. The whole system is rotten to the core, corrupted by big business and special interests from the seventh son to the seventh son.

Or daughter, as we learned these past few days when the news introduced us to Heather Bresch, CEO of a drug company called Mylan and daughter of Democratic US Sen. Joe Manchin III, who’s also the former governor of West Virginia.


#2

Someone should tell Ms. Bresch to stick it every eight-and-a-half minutes, as that is how long it takes her to "earn" an EpiPen.


#3

Mr.Winship, The words are not hurts regular Americans; however, destroying, and perhaps in many cases killing regular Americans. Anaphylactic shock is deadly. Of course, Senator Joe Manchin, and company don't loose any sleep over the fact. The fact of the heartbreak moms, and dads are going through over Epi-Pens.


#5

Doesn't the Affordable Care Act (ACA) prohibit drug imports from abroad, including Canada, even though many of those drugs are actually manufactured in the US ?

Although "Hillary Clinton decried the EpiPen price gouge", during her Senate stint she voted in favor of the Dubya/Billy Tauzin Medicare Part D legislation in 2003 that prohibits Medicare from negotiating drug prices. She also assured progressives during the primary that "single payer will never happen in the US" while promising to embrace the ACA that was launched with a secret meeting between Obama and Tauzin to make sure the US government would never be allowed to expand drug price negotiation (with the exception of the Veterans Administration (VA) which has always had the green light to negotiate).


#6

Oh yes, this will be reported and then nothing gets done about it.


#7

Every time drug prices increase, the drug makers receive more revenue that gives them the ability to buy more politicians, thereby assuring that they can keep increasing prices.


#8

Everyday it seems more so that we are a fascist nation.


#9

In economics it is taught that where there is free competition, prices are driven to near-cost. The cost of the active ingredient, epinephrine, in Epi-Pens is under a dollar. So the real issue is why Congress has allowed a near-monopoly to exist in drug manufacturing: the answer is corruption.
Any company that can demonstrate their product is identical to an off-patent drug should be allowed to market it immediately- the relative risk of inactive ingredients being relatively minor, and prices would plummet. Why is it that tetracycline, wich cost pennies per tablet only 20 years ago is now $10/pill?


#10

The excellent author John Michael Greer in his book "The Blood of The Earth," suggests that invoking this prospect does a disservice to the memory of those who died fighting this menace. Had never thought of that prior. In lesser moments, wonder whether the majority of us wouldn't feel largely all right under this system (just don't take our consumer goodies).


#11

Congress privileges the corporate state over its citizens. Yes, corporations employ citizens (though evidently, not as many as in the past), so in theory they're not all bad. In practice, it's another story.

If a group of people wants to start a business, they need to apply to the state. The state, having the authority, issues a charter in order that this group of people can incorporate and have the myriad benefits thereof. Why then is the state helpless to stop (in this case) Mylan from perpetrating this extortion? If it issued the corporate authority, why then can it not amend or revoke it? That to me is the salient question, whether it's Mylan or any other.


#12

It is not Congress' job to prevent business from trying to maximize their profits, however unsavory, but to prevent monopoly- that is why Standard Oil and Ma Bell were broken up. The Sherman AntiTrust Act is still on the books. (and yet mergers "in the name of efficiency" but with the real intent to exercise monopoly power occur almost at will). Congressmen, fed huge sums by big Pharma, have enacted laws which act as barriers to competition and which in effect extends monopoly power by them. That is what has to be changed, but the man on the street, the mother with already-underfed children has no lobbyist. Carrying their dead children to the Capitol might work.


#13

Yes.
Though Customs doesn't enforce it for personal supplies. Thus patmarty's activity for the past 20 years.
Government Single Payers over there demand lower prices, and as long as the price covers the manufacturing and regulatory cost of providing it over there, drug companies here resist but yield.
-- In effect, American consumers shoulder most of the drug companies' cost of R&D-ing the drug and jumping through regulatory hoops to get it approved for use. The Europeans et. al. pay little of that.


That is the general statement.
What is happening with Mylan is the worst sort of monopoly no-competition pricing, in a non-free market framework, of the company getting cozy with government in order to get away with it.


#14

In an NPR report I heard that there already exists a generic 'epi-pen' called adrenaclick, in addition to the fakey generic recently introduced by Mylan. The already existing 'epi-pen' is not quite as convenient to use as an epi-pen. Its cost is a little bit less than what Mylan will charge for the fakey epi-pen. Up to 2015 there was another option called Auvi-Q, but all those were recalled and the company went out of that business.

In the past the Cato Institute has questioned whether we get value from the FDA, or whether in one way or another it tends to create monopolies that can gouge us in pricing.
I haven't had a chance to listen to this, but give it a try.
http://www.cato.org/multimedia/media-highlights-tv/michael-d-tanner-discusses-epipen-price-controversy-fbns-intelligence