We Are Being Robbed by Pharma Cartel Profiteers

by | May 25, 2021 | Politics & Corruption

Photo by Cagkan Sayin, iStockphoto

We Are Being Robbed by Pharma Cartel Profiteers

by | May 25, 2021 | Politics & Corruption

Photo by Cagkan Sayin, iStockphoto
What is profiteering? It is “the act or activity of making an unreasonable profit on the sale of essential goods especially during times of emergency.” For anyone who needs an essential medication for their health, an emergency would be not having that drug.

I went to the pharmacy the other day to pick up a prescription. Unfortunately, having had asthma most of my life, I need to take a daily puff of a drug that helps with it. It is made by GlaxoSmithKlein, a British Pharma outfit that also does big business in the United States. Judging from my personal experience, a massive amount of that business is pure, unadulterated profiteering.

So what is profiteering? It is “the act or activity of making an unreasonable profit on the sale of essential goods especially during times of emergency.” For anyone who needs an essential medication for their health, an emergency would be not having that drug.

What is an excess or unreasonable profit? At first this might seem to be a pretty subjective and hard to define datum. In the case of GlaxoSmithKlein (GSK), I can assure you it is pretty easy to demonstrate.

Back to my prescription. The co-pay for my medicine—an inhaled medication called Breo Elipta—was $97 for a 30-day supply. It is delivered in a specially designed system that measures out one puff per day. The cost without my very good insurance coverage would have been well over $400. So how do we know there is an excessive and unreasonable profit being generated by GSK?

Well it so happens that I was in South Africa in 2019 and needed to get a refill. In Commonwealth countries, the same formulation—with a slight dosage variation—is sold under the name Relvar Ellipta. Also made by GSK, it has the exact same specialized delivery system, one dose per day. Since my insurance was not going to work in South Africa I had to pay cash. The price? The Rand equivalent of $38.

There is no way GSK, which has a massive presence in Johannesburg, would be selling this product at a loss.

One can conclude the obvious that American customers are simply being ripped off. This is not the only medication GSK runs this scam with. Another example is another one of their asthma products, Advair. Again a specialized delivery system. The last time I purchased this one, the 30-day supply was almost $400 without insurance. I bought this over the counter at an open-air pharmacy in Tijuana, genuine product from GSK, same delivery system, but with a different name sticker. The price was $72—for a 60-day supply.

Calling the major pharma companies cartels is deliberate. Here’s the actual definition of cartel, “an association of manufacturers or suppliers with the purpose of maintaining prices at a high level and restricting competition.” There is not much daylight between the pharma companies and the drug/gun thugs of Medellín or Sinaloa.

These “legal” drug cartels have taken advantage of the United States market for far too long and show no signs of changing course. They have built vast mechanisms to keep the flow of excess profits pouring into their coffers.

A great example is the company GoodRX. This is a company that actually makes no sense. It advertises major discounts for major drugs. But those discounts are actually a small percentage and could be chalked up as promotion costs. The real purpose of the company is to normalize price gouging. Making a person “feel good” with a 10 percent price reduction off a drug that is already 10 times the price of another country is just a scam.

We are simply being robbed. If this makes you feel outraged, good. We need some national outrage on this subject. Our pockets are being picked on a massive scale.

Let’s take a quick look at how big this rip-off really is. Let’s start with a relatively known number. There are approximately 25 million asthma sufferers in the United States. If just 10 percent of these people use Breo Elipta to help control their symptoms, based on the differential between the US cash price and South Africa’s, that comes to approximately $100 million per month in excess profits, or $1.2 billion annually. And this is based on an assumption of a 10-percent market share. That is just a look at one drug for asthma. Meanwhile, the price of insulin has been inflated to many hundreds of dollars per month. You get the idea.

When you hear about the vast “unworkability” of Medicare for All, or how it is some sort of a communist plot, etc., etc., realize that those arguments are there to protect the profit river of these cartels. There is a reason that out of all the industrialized countries in the world, we are the only one that can’t “figure out” universal healthcare. This is one of the key reasons.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Related Articles

Oct 05 2022

Voting Rights Are First Up on the Docket at the Supreme Court

Black voters make up more than a quarter of the Alabama’s population, but only one congressional district would be majority Black under the voting map drawn by...
Oct 04 2022

Big Pharma-Funded FDA Gets Drugs Out Faster, but at What Cost?

In 1992 Congress passed a law committing the drug industry to pay so-called user fees to help fund the FDA’s drug approval process. Big Pharma has used that law to...
Sep 26 2022

The Koch Network Is Financing Election Deniers With Campaign Cash Ahead of Midterms

Charles Koch and his billionaire buddies in the Koch Network continue their pattern of trying to tear down our government by funding candidates who tried to turn our...
Sep 25 2022

How the Supreme Court Unleashed a Corporate Criminal Takeover of America

Because of key decisions by the Supreme Court equating money with free speech, our political system is now overrun with grifters, con artists and career...
Sep 22 2022

New York’s Lawsuit Against Donald Trump — A Tax Lawyer Explains What’s at Stake

While the New York Attorney General’s massive lawsuit against Donald Trump, his children and companies is a civil suit, it marks a beginning and an acceleration...
Sep 21 2022

How Privatization and Corruption Magnified Puerto Rico’s Vulnerability to Hurricanes

Still recovering from the 2017 disaster of Hurricane Maria, which killed 3000 Americans in Puerto Rico, the islands have been blacked again out by much smaller...
Sep 17 2022

What Is Behind the Diminishing Trust in Government Institutions?

Our government institutions are the glue that actually holds our society together and keep things rolling. What happens when that glue stops sticking?
Sep 15 2022

The Sacklers and Purdue Pharma Were Not Alone in Creating and Profiting From the Opioid Crisis

The Sacklers became the public face of the opioid crisis despite not being the only players. They were the first to hypermarket opioids and then led the pack in blaming...
U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) speaks during an April 6, 2022 press conference at the U.S. Capitol. Gottheimer is among the nearly 100 members of U.S. Congress whose ownership or trading of financial assets overlapped with their committee work. (Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
Sep 14 2022

Conflict of Interest: Members of Congress Trading Stocks

We need more action on legislation that would ban Congressional stock trading. And fewer members of Congress in violation of the rules already on the books.
Sep 13 2022

The Tax Money Sinkhole That Is the American Weapons Industry

Military contractors and arms manufacturers and other weapons industry players cash in as Congress adds billions to the Pentagon budget each year.
Subscribe for Updates!

Subscribe for Updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This