Big Bucks, Big Pharma

I posted this in segments quite some time ago on the old blog, but here’s the whole documentary. In light of the raging dispute over healthcare in the U.S. these days, it’s worth another look as this is one of the most salient problems with the current system.

Big Pharma spends more than $3 billion per year in the US trying to convince people to buy their drugs. Bob Goodman of the non-profit Nofreelunch.org says that the television marketing is so effective that “Patients come in and ask for stuff they don’t even know what it’s for.” No wonder Americans spend more than twice the rate of GDP on healthcare as other western industrialized countries.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration has completely sold out to Big Pharma. In order to win its public support for reform, the White House has promised that any new legislation will ban the government from negotiating lower drug prices. So Big Pharma can continue charging whatever it wants for patented drugs. In return, the pharmaceutical companies have promised to launch a $150 million advertising campaign on behalf of reform. Woo hoo! To put that in perspective, that’s about what the industry spends in two weeks advertising their drugs direct to consumers.

Holidaze

Assholes Conservatives for Patient’s Rights, the well-funded astrotruf group run by disgraced former Columbia/HCA executive Rick Scott (who was ousted from the company that was subsequently fined a record $1.5 billion for Medicare fraud) will be running commercials in the Boston area with the intention of “dogging” President Obama during his week-long vacation on Martha’s Vineyard while also redoubling their efforts to foment outrage against the public option at town halls across the country.

President Bush of course made 149 visits to Camp David (487 days) and 77 to his “ranch” in Crawford (490 days) during his presidency. In other words, he spent fully one-third of his entire time in office on “vacation” (usually described otherwise in the media).

Democracy Inaction

Montana Sky

Robert Reich makes a very interesting point this morning.

The so-called “Gang of Six” (comprised of three Democrats and three Republicans) that are holding healthcare reform hostage in the Senate Finance Committee, together represent only 2.6 percent of Americans.