Sanders is Right about Prescription Drugs
In 1999, I took a busload of Vermonters – mostly women, many of them dealing with breast cancer – over the Canadian border into Montreal. As long as I live, I will never forget the looks on their faces when they bought the same medicine they were buying in Vermont, in the U.S.A., for one-tenth of the price – one-tenth of the price. These were working-class women who were struggling with breast cancer and who didn’t have a whole lot of money. They were able to purchase the exact same medicine for 10 percent of the price in Montreal. That makes no sense to me, and it only speaks to the power of the pharmaceutical industry over the Congress that we have Members here who vote for all kinds of free-trade agreements – they just love free trade. We can bring in any product we want from China. We can have lettuce and tomatoes coming in from farms in Mexico. But for some strange reason we cannot bring in brand name drugs from Canada. We just can’t do it. We can’t figure out how to do it. And everybody here knows what the reason is – it is the power of the pharmaceutical industry, their campaign donations, and their lobbying efforts.
This is hardcore business ethics. Rigging the game so that Americans are forced to pay premium prices is wrong. This kind of thing and it is an American constant, a continuous cycle of political spending and favors designed to enrich a tiny number while impoverishing the rest, is key to understanding the appeal of Donald Trump. Those voters are so angry that it doesn’t matter what he says or does as long as he is clearly not part of a political system that rigs the game against them on a regular basis.
Americans bear much of the burden of medical research through their tax dollars but are subjected to the agony of hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars for drugs whose actual costs are measured in pennies. This is an enormous transfer of wealth from the vast majority of Americans to the bank accounts of a few. Why should we Americans pay twice, first to develop the drugs and then, once again, when we need them?
Who designed this? – the drug companies and their allies in the government. Heads, they win, tails you lose. Every single time.
This isn’t right.
We can do better that this.
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