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Pharma War on Public Health

Written by Subject: United States

Pharma War on Public Health

by Stephen Lendman

Big Pharma prioritizes maximum profits no matter the cost to human health they're indifferent toward.

They spend billions of dollars advertising their products annually — heavily on television, influencing naive consumers, unaware of risks to human health powerful drugs pose.

Pharma does what it pleases because lobbyists representing their interests control congressional lawmakers and others abroad.

In the last decade, mergers and acquisitions consolidated the industry from 60 international firms to 10.

Greater consolidation increased Pharma power to raise prices exponentially to gouge consumers unchallenged because governments in Washington and elsewhere in the West do nothing to constrain them.

Greater consolidation also kills innovation. It's mostly done by smaller firms, international drug companies buying them at favorable prices.

Like other corporate predators, maximum profitmaking is the be all and end all of Pharma's operating strategy.

According to a report by Rep. Katie Porter, "(i)t's time that we reevaluate the standards for approving (Pharma) mergers."

"It's time we pass legislation to lower drug prices." 

"And it's time we rethink the structure of leadership at big pharmaceutical companies."

"In 2018, the year (of) Trump's tax giveaway to" corporate predators and America's super-rich, "12 of the biggest pharmaceutical companies spent more money on stock buybacks than on research and development."

Pharma executives defy reality by falsely claiming that consolidation increases operational efficiency (sic)."

It increases profitability through greater market share and other anti-consumer practices.

Mergers and acquisitions boost stock prices by reducing marketplace competition and acquiring "blockbuster" drugs with enormous "revenue stream" potential.

"Instead of spending on innovation, Big Pharma is hoarding its money for salaries and dividends, all while swallowing smaller companies, thus making the marketplace far less competitive," Porter explained.

Separately, she tweeted the following:

"For years, Big Pharma has gobbled up small biotech firms that might otherwise force them to compete." 

"As soon as these companies are acquired, innovation stops." 

"The culture of creativity is killed. The small firm's vision is lost, and the big firm's profits become priority."

Longtime biotech/Pharma official Peter O'Brien said that "gobbling up early phase biotechs (enables Pharma to) quash creativity in the discovery space…"

Porter's report called mergers and acquisitions "the tip of the iceberg of pharmaceutical companies' anti-competitive, profit-driven" practices.

Big Pharma prioritizes executive pay and bonuses, enriching shareholders, and consolidating to greater size to "eliminate competition."

These firms "are not responsible for most major breakthroughs in new drugs." 

"Rather, innovation is driven in small firms, which are often spun off of taxpayer-funded academic research." 

"These small labs are then purchased by giant firms after they've assumed the risk needed to develop a blockbuster drug."

Instead of R&D in search of breakthrough drugs for disease fighting, Pharma focuses on "incremental changes to existing drugs in order to kill off generic threats to their government-granted monopoly patents."

Mergers and acquisitions stifle innovation. 

Porter's report recommended the following:

Remove incentives that benefit investors and Wall Street over patients' health, lives, and well-being.

Reevaluate and alter Federal Trade Commission standards for approving healthcare mergers.

Halt exponential increases in drug prices. Act to make them more affordable by lowering prices.

Enact consumer-friendly legislation to halt Pharma abuses.

It's time to rein in predatory practices by which Pharma consolidates market power that enables greater price-gouging of consumers.

A Final Comment

According to Gallup research, Pharma "is now the most poorly regarded industry in Americans' eyes, ranking last on a list of 25 industries that Gallup tests annually."

"Americans are more than twice as likely to rate the pharmaceutical industry negatively (58%) as positively (27%), giving it a net-positive score of -31."

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