Big Pharma

Many are unaware that the government pays for the research and development of new medication. Since we are not a socialist country with our own pharmaceutical factories, Congress votes to give the patents to certain companies (use your imagination how they chose the companies).

One thing to take away from this posting is that the Founding Fathers had a debate about patents and the length of legal protection against infringement. Ben Franklin was the primary mover in this debate, and the length of patent protection was set a three years. The reason was that the Founding Fathers believed in "the commons" and that our citizens should have access to common areas but also inventions that improve life. They felt that the inventor should be able to regain his research costs, but a hefty compensation--but for only three years. At that point, the patent would revert to the public, with anybody who wanted to make a competing product.

Flash forward to now and the whole EpiPen fiasco. Epinephrine was invented at the turn of the previous century and patented in 1903. The delivery device was invented solely by the government for the military as delivery device for anti-nerve gas agents. I was an infantryman and remember the autopens very well, which were designed as an emergency pen to shoot through clothes. The cost today to manufacture one EpiPen package of two is less than ten dollars, but EpiPen's company Mylan, run by a US Senator's daughter, raised the cost to six hundred dollars. 

The greed and crime on Mylan and the EpiPen don't end there. Mylan was caught over-billing Medicaid for FIVE BILLION DOLLARS. Once again, our corrupt DOJ and US Attorney "forced" an agreement, whereby the executives--and the Senator's daughter, avoided not only prison for fraud, but did not admit to guilt. The fine was typical, roughly 500 million dollars, or one-tenth of what Mylan made through fraud.

Just for comparison, a chiropractor I had got railroaded by the DOJ for double-billing Medicare twenty times--even though she did not accept Medicare! She had bought the business from a doctor who retired who did. Her office was attached to my gym, and I remember a dozen FBI agents in ballistic vests, waving their guns in the air and shouting while storming her office. Real tough guys. When I spoke to her she was puzzled by the whole episode, as she was working with the FBI and provided information on the previous doctor. US Attorney Robert Muller decided to make an example out of her, putting her in prison for three years even while she appealed.

To get back to Big Pharma, we will never get healthcare costs down until something is done about over-charging for medicine. Congress could have done something about the outrageous hiking of this life-saving drug EpiPen, but they are too corrupt to act. They could revoke the patent from Mylan, aside from insisting on law known as "march in rights" when a drug company over charges. Of course, they also could have gotten in front of the cameras and insisted the Mylan executives went to jail.

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