Deep into our third (yes, third) profit-motivated opioid epidemic, we are now also facing a global pandemic without the treatments and vaccines we need to prevent further mass death. At the same time, ordinary Americans who have long struggled to afford their daily medications, such as insulin, now face increasingly difficult choices as they lose jobs and health insurance as a consequence of shutdowns. We have the scientific capacity to eradicate HIV, but only a privileged few can actually afford the prophylactic treatment that could arrest the virus’s spread.
These crises are all interrelated, and they all stem from the deadly mistake of treating medicine like a business, rather than a public service.
While we benefit from a highly sophisticated, technically advanced pharmaceutical industry, that same industry systematically—and often catastrophically—fails to meet the needs of our society, our health, and our economy. Without a public option in pharmaceuticals, we’re doomed to business as usual, and business as usual has already taken far too large a toll on our society.
Since the beginning of the year, Big Pharma has hiked the prices on 245 drugs, including 61 used in the treatment of COVID-19, restricting access to only those who can pay. Even though the US pumps more public dollars into pharmaceutical development than any other country in the world, ordinary Americans are saddled with the world’s highest drug prices.
Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction