Kris Morgan 3/20/2018
The media has done its part blasting the heroin epidemic but has had little success completely informing us on the abuse of prescription medication. This is likely to provoke demand on the part of the people for stronger policing measures in the failed war on drugs. As it stands, Americans consume 80% of the global supply of opioids according to CNBC. Another aspect of concern is what is happening with our children. According to PsychologyToday, “extrapolated to the U.S. population as a whole, the consequences are stark: approximately 1.1 million children received an inappropriate diagnosis [of ADHD] and over 800,000 received stimulant medication due only to relative [im]maturity.” So who is benefitting from drugging our population?
Shire CEO Flemming Ornskov
Shire is an Ireland-based company that produces Adderall, which is marketed towards children diagnosed with ADHD. Not only is is ADHD is overdiagnosed, but in 2014 Healthline outed Shire for exaggerating the benefits of Adderall. They were fined $56.14mil as a result. According to subsidy tracker, Shire received $250,543,073 in federal, state, and local grants from FY2000 to present. Mr. Ornskov has a networth of about $21mil.
Novartis CEO Vasant Narasimhan
Novartis is a ritalin manufacturer based in Switzerland. Like Shire, they have faced a class-action lawsuit for over-promoting ritalin as an ADHD medication. FY2000 to present, Novartis received grants in the United States in the amount of $159,582,837 while Narasimhan has a salary of $8.9mil.
Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky
Johnson & Johnson is the world’s most profitable pharmaceutical company. In 2014 the BBC reported $71.3bn in total revenue (Novartis was number two with $58.8bn). Janssen, the official name of J&J’s drug manufacturing branch, makes products ranging from Tylenol to Sylvant, a drug used by patients undergoing chemotherapy. The amount of subsidies FY2000 to present was slightly lower, at 83,613,496. Per the Chicago Tribune, the company would, not surprisingly, like the insurance industry to pay for pre-existing conditions as well as allow children to remain on their parents’ plans until age 26. Mr. Gorsky has a salary of $21.2mil.
Pfizer CEO Ian C. Read
According to their website, Pfizer is involved in manufacturing both prescription and over-the-counter medications. Pfizer provides a notable example of cronyism in the area of eminent domain. As ij.org stated, “In 1998, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer built a plant next to Fort Trumbull and the City determined that someone else could make better use of the land than the Fort Trumbull residents. The City handed over its power of eminent domain—the ability to take private property for public use—to the New London Development Corporation (NLDC)… In 2009, Pfizer, the lynchpin of the disastrous economic development plan, announced that it was leaving New London for good, just as its tax breaks are set to expire.” FY2000 to present they have received a whopping $371,367,005 in US subsidies. Mr. Read receives a salary of about $24mil.
A big driver in pharmaceutical corporatism is intellectual property rights. The industry makes the consistent claim that intellectual property stimulates innovation, as R&D can be conducted with the expectation that one’s work will be handsomely rewarded and not ‘stolen.’ Dissent Magazine voiced a different opinion: “…while movements have grown to expand treatment access, corporations have bulked up artificial barriers through intellectual property laws. Today, 26 million people worldwide are still not getting proper treatment [for HIV/AIDS], and the WHO has recently pressed wealthy donor states for a major infusion of aid for treatment programs. Yet those same programs are sliding on a collision course with powerful pharmaceutical monopolies.
Not only does intellectual property stifle competition, it is not in line with consistent property rights. The Mises Institute published the following in an article titled “The Fight Against Intellectual Property”: “…when government grants IP rights, it’s not really granting a property right in an idea, but is instead granting a monopoly on the right to use an idea for certain profitable purposes. If you own a copyright in a book, only you (or someone to whom you give permission) can produce and sell copies of that book. If you own a patent on an invention, only you (or someone to whom you give permission) can produce and sell the invention for a certain period of time.”
No matter how beneficial it may seem to consumers and producers alike, allowing the government to grant monopolies to whomever they see fit leads to monopoly pricing, as we all witnessed when Martin Shkreli raised the price of an AIDS pill from $13.50 to $750. Parties in a sector of the economy, in this case prescription drugs, will become greedy, politicians will become corrupt, and the people/consumers will lose. Monopoly prices will rear their ugly heads as competition is cut at the neck and body-politic would lose its influence on its chosen leaders, as we have. Whatever language we wish to use; taking our country back, restoring democracy, eliminating cronyism, etc. we all know the unholy alliance between business and government has to end.
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