Passionate Instigator, Dynamic Problem Solver
June 13th, 2014 05:00:00 am
Let's start with some facts and figures from various sources, and extrapolate later. First, from vox.com:
Americans pay far more for pharmaceutical and medical tests than people do in countries where a single agency negotiates prices.
Examples (on average):
MRI scan - $1,145 USA, $350 Australia, $138 Switzerland
Nexium, heartburn drug - $215 USA, $58 Spain, $42 England, $23 Netherlands
Pharmaceutical companies, on average:
Spend 2-3 times more on advertising and sales and marketing cost than research and development (R&D) and yet receive billions of dollars in subsidies because the cost of R&D is so high. (Health News Review)
According to Fortune magazine, the drug industry has been the most profitable industry each year since 1982.
Though the “cost” of research and development to churn out drugs is the justification for subsidizing this profitable industry, only 22% of drugs released are truly new to the market. Most are upgrades or makeovers that justify the increase of cost, or extends the patent rights so generic versions can't be released. These generic versions would dramatically bring down the cost of the drug. (Citizen.org)
Drug companies fought and won an nine year legal battle to keep the actual figures of R7D from being audited. Congress can subpoena the records but has failed to do so since 1999. Since 1998 to date, drug companies have spent over $2.8 billion in Washington DC through lobbyists. That's $2.8 billion that is traceable. It doesn't look like a subpoena is coming any time soon.
In addition to research subsidies, the drug industry is lightly taxed, thanks to tax credits. The drug industry's effective tax rate is about 40% less than the average for other industries.
A recent study from the Institute of Medicine says that about $785 billion (a third of total healthcare) is spent each year on things that don't have anything to do with getting or keeping us healthy. Instead, it's spent as a byproduct of the fractured healthcare system—and this is all pre-Affordable Care Act. Some of that is just by over-giving care (too much testing, etc.), and some of that is just system suck.
So, at the end of the day, we have a bloated, corrupt, and inefficient healthcare system that is, in part, controlled by drug companies. A healthcare system that has been allowed to become like this because of the corruption of Washignton, DC. It does not truly serve the people; it milks them for all they are worth. Meanwhile, countries outside the US have more affordable medications, testing, and other medical costs. They pay less for healthcare per person and it's not because they get less healthcare of have less problems. We have become lazy and apathetic, unwilling to stand up against the corruption that has become "healthcare." Will the Affordable Care Act do that? It's too early to tell. But until politicians stop kowtowing to corporations and institutions, until they stop accepting legalized bribes (called lobbying), this will never be a government that works for the people, by the people.