Letter: Big Pharma, interesting and infuriating

To the editor:

I just attended a screening of a very interesting and infuriating movie called "Big Pharma — Market Failure." Made by a successful American businessman who sees out of control drug prices killing his business, the movie chronicles how, over the past several decades, the pharmaceutical companies have become greedy to the point that they are price fixing and price gouging us. Ethics, be damned, full speed ahead to maximum profit.

I keep thinking about two points in particular. First, most people don't realize that the pay raises we expect have actually been going to the pharmaceutical and health insurance companies. By the time employers pay the annual increase in these costs, there is literally nothing left for workers. That's exactly the situation that the businessman who made the movie finds himself in. To be clear, the excessively high cost of drugs is a major contributor to the high cost of health care overall, and both contribute to stagnating wages. Check the public record; the cost of health care goes up every year, while wages too often do not. This should be infuriating to both employers and workers.

Second, the movie points out that over the past 70 years, drug companies have changed their entire approach. While they once focused on developing medications for the public good, they now develop medications solely as a commodity to maximize profits. The public good plays no role in the decision on how much to charge their captive market. Massive spending on lobbying keeps the government from stepping in, and we end up with prices for simple medicines skyrocketing. When profit is your sole concern, why charge $15 for a medicine that people need to stay alive, when you can charge $1,200 and know that the patients have no choice but to pay it? In my opinion, this business model is not sustainable. It threatens our economy and the well being of all Americans. Big Pharma screens again on COt. 10 at 7 p.m. at the Bennington Free Library, sponsored by Bennington Rights and Democracy. Go see it and you will understand why I am mad as hell. Like me, you will want to do something about it.

— Charlie Murphy



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