Big Pharma Companies: The New Drug Mafia


The pandemic has revealed the power of big pharma. Major drug manufacturers and suppliers have the power to set prices, influence regulators and lobby lawmakers. This power has allowed big pharma to push potentially dangerous drugs.

by Anwar A. Khan

From time immemorial, administering medications and curing were always considered acts of godliness. A suffering patient literally worships a doctor. He is hopeful that the good doctor will at least alleviate his pain, if not fully cure it.

The doctors rely on drugs manufactured by pharma companies to do the good act. But are the pharmaceutical companies interested in doing what is right? Very rarely - their motive is nothing but profit - not just profit, but exorbitant profits. The patient's health and recovery are no more the prime aim. The pharma companies’ rope is in the doctor in the conspiracy.

This is a very serious distortion with no end in sight.

The pandemic has revealed the power of big pharma. Major drug manufacturers and suppliers have the power to set prices, influence regulators and lobby lawmakers. This power has allowed big pharma to push potentially dangerous drugs.  

Who do you think decides whether you live or die? Most of you would say its faith. But in our world a pandemic written world its Big Pharma. A bunch of companies that make vaccine and medicines. They decide who lives and who dies. And that makes them dangerously powerful. We know who stands to gain. Big Pharma. They're rolling in money. They're blackmailing governments. They're fueling inequity. They’re setting arbitrary terms & conditions, jacking up prices, pushing secret deals. and yet we've little choice but to take their vaccines. That's the kind of power they reeled. In today's world Big Pharma decides whether you live or die. This temerity is Irremissible!

Big Pharma in collusion with some doctors make the high paid dirty job of promoting, mandating and of prescribing/recommending the unsafe drugs that give billions of profits to big pharma and big money to every corrupt in this planet.

For example: The pharmaceutical industry leverages Washington’s culture of corruption to increase profits while everyday Americans suffer from high drug prices.

Former US President Trump had long promised to stand up to the pharmaceutical industry and lower prescription drug prices, but he had avoided taking serious action to drive down prices while at the same time filling top spots in his administration with industry insiders. This administration’s culture of corruption, which continues a decadeslong practice of political pandering to the pharmaceutical industry, carries a real cost; Americans spent US$535 billion on prescription drugs in 2018, an increase of 50 percent since 2010. These price increases far surpass inflation, with Big Pharma increasing prices on its most-prescribed medications by anywhere from 40 percent to 71 percent from 2011 to 2015.

Moreover, pharmaceutical companies receive substantial U.S. government assistance in the form of publicly funded basic research and tax breaks, yet they continue to charge exorbitant prices for medications. But the issue goes beyond cost. In America, more than 1 million individuals suffer from Type-1 diabetes-3, a condition where the body cannot make insulin, which is essential for getting glucose (also known as blood sugar) into cells from the bloodstream. Without insulin, glucose accumulates in the bloodstream, causing dangerously high blood sugar levels. 

Among all Americans suffering from diabetes, at least 1 in 45 have said that they engaged in insulin rationing—a tactic of using less insulin than is needed in order to make the doses last longer—as a direct result of the skyrocketing price of the drug. A vial of insulin, which is the only life-sustaining option for Type-1 diabetics, retails at around US$300.

Billions of taxpayer dollars go into the creation and marketing of new drugs. The Los Angeles Times reports that, “Since the 1930s, the National Institutes of Health has invested close to US$90017 billion in the basic and applied research that formed both the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors.” Despite taxpayers’ crucial investment, U.S. consumers are increasingly paying more for their prescription drugs.

Pharmaceutical companies also benefit from research and development tax credits. The federal R&D tax credit was first introduced in 1981 to encourage private sector investment in pioneering research. This tax credit is available to businesses that attempt to develop new, improved, or technologically advanced products or trade processes. In 2015, former President Barack Obama signed into law the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act, which made these tax credits permanent and extended them to small businesses and startup companies.

Pharmaceutical industries also receive a tax deduction for their marketing and advertising expenses. 

Despite these taxpayer subsidies, prescription drug prices are nonetheless increasing at an alarming rate. In 2019, price increases from drug manufacturers affected more than 3,40026 drugs. For example, Allergan, a major pharmaceutical manufacturer, raised prices on 51 drugs, just more than half its portfolio. 

Pharmaceutical companies’ profit margins receive significant bumps when they launch new drugs, specifically specialty drugs, used to treat life-threatening conditions. These drugs often cost more than most Americans can afford. Pharmaceutical companies have stated that the prices are high because the drugs are difficult to manufacture. In 2013, for example, industry giant Gilead Sciences launched Sovaldi, a hepatitis C drug, at US$1,000 per pill, or US$84,00032 per treatment, which could last 12 to 24 weeks. After an 18-month investigation into the company’s pricing, the Senate Finance Committee concluded that Gilead had pursued a marketing and pricing strategy designed to “maximize revenue with little concern for access or affordability.”

Drug companies also benefit from patents, which give them monopoly power for their on-patent products. These patents ensure that prices remain high by reducing competition. 

A 2018 study in the Journal of Law and the Biosciences found that 78 percent of new drug patents awarded in the past decade went to drugs that already existed. Seventy percent of the nearly 100 bestselling drugs extended their exclusivity protections at least once, and 50 percent extended their patents more than once. The second tactic—thickening—involves flooding the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the courts with excessive patents and applications to make it difficult for competing firms to secure patents. These tactics help preserve pharmaceutical companies’ monopolies and ensure that drug prices remain uncompetitive and thus less affordable for everyday patients across the world.

While consumers continue to pay the price of this market manipulation, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the pharmaceutical industry found that these unfair practices are significantly enriching manufacturers.

In 2018 alone, the CEOs of major pharmaceutical companies Allergan, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer Inc. made a total of US$90 million. Meanwhile, according to a CBS News report, Americans spent US$535 billion on prescription drugs in 2018—an increase of 50 percent since 2010. As pharmaceutical industry profits increase, everyday Americans—whose tax dollars play a critical role in funding the research and development of these medicationsare not receiving anything close to a fair return on their investment.

Congress has done little to address the problem of high drug prices. Instead, many members continue to enjoy cozy relationships with the pharmaceutical industry. 

Big Pharma’s investment has paid off as recently as July 2019, when the Senate Finance Committee failed to pass an amendment on the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019, which would have allowed Medicare to negotiate drug prices with manufacturers. Medicare’s ability to negotiate on drug prices, which is currently prohibited by law, “would provide the leverage needed to lower drug costs.”

Big Pharma can play this game indefinitely, benefiting from this culture of corruption, using allies in the administration and in Congress to grow their profit margins while everyday people suffer. But there are steps lawmakers can take to reduce the influence of special interests, including Big Pharma. For example, lobbyists are currently allowed to fundraise for candidates for federal officeand many of them provide far more financial support beyond the US$2,800 per candidate limit by hosting fundraising events and bundling contributions. 

Banning lobbyists from fundraising for candidates would reduce special-interest influence over the legislative process. Another way to limit corrupting conflicts of interest is to ban members of Congress from accepting campaign donations from entities under the jurisdiction of the committees on which the serve. 

As Americans are caught trying to decide whether to pay for rent or medicine, pharmaceutical companies continue to reap government benefits. Reducing drug prices and the costs that everyday people must pay is not possible without fixing the broken system in Washington.

We don't have Doctors and Pharmacists anymore throughout the world; we only have businessmen!

-The End –

The writer is an independent political analyst based in Dhaka, Bangladesh who writes on politics, political and human-centred figures, current and international affairs