The Scourge of Big Pharma

by Serban V.C. Enache

You can employ more people, build more living space, make new gains in science, technology, and productivity – but so long as you tolerate the leech, you will never stamp out disease, end poverty, or homelessness. The company Gilead is one such parasitical entity. Its drug called Truvada prevents and treats HIV and AIDS. For a month’s treatment, this drug costs between 1600 and 2000 dollars. Robert Grant used 50 million dollars in Federal grant money to do research, research which showed that Truvada, an old prescription drug, prevented HIV infection. Gilead shareholders get all the profits. The US Treasury gets none of it. And consumers end up paying an outrageous markup [over 26,000 and over 33,000 percent] on a drug that costs 6 dollars to make.

We have a similar case for Gilead’s miracle pill that treats Hepatitis C, which they priced at over 1000 dollars. The CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals takes the cake, who raised the price of Daraprim [an anti-parasite drug, how ironic] from 13 dollars to 750 dollars a pill [that’s over a 5000 percent increase]. In other countries, a dose of Daraprim costs as little as 10 cents. This parasite’s name is Martin Shkreli. When a Congressman pleaded with him to think of those suffering and in need of the drug, Shkreli displayed a child-like smile, as if it was all fun and games, as if he had done or seen no evil, and then nodded in a sarcastic manner in reply to the words he heard. See it for yourselves here.

These drugs and the research behind them were made possible by the intellectual labor of scientists – labor and equipment funded almost entirely by the State, by the community at large. As such, the nation as a whole should reap the benefits, not a handful of private agents [be they firms or persons]. We need stakeholder capitalism to move forward, not shareholder capitalism. Socio-economic and technological progress is stifled by the usurer, rent-seeker, patent-holder, war profiteer classes.

Patents don’t make society richer, but poorer and should be abolished! And, if you want history, in the US, for most of the 1800s, the medical profession considered patents on pharmaceuticals unethical. If a team of scientists discovers a miracle drug, that formula should be free for any manufacturer to use – and you’d have saner markups, like 20 or 25 percent or even less. And there would be no problem if the Government paid a premium or a special pension to researchers who break barriers in these vital fields.

Today, we have a castrated political class catering to a Feudal and Financial oligarchy, while the masses remain largely passive, drugged, and intoxicated. The State is a vehicle that receives only enough fuel to drive the idle, owner class forward at the expense of everyone else; and this fuel is not composed of money or material resources, but willpower. In other words, political will is only mustered for the benefit of oligarchs and the means of death [wars], not the rest of humanity and the means of life.