We Can Stop Drug Price Gouging. Here’s How.

Photo by Roberto Sorin

We human beings sometimes do some terrible things in pursuit of the almighty dollar. But to our credit, one moral line most humans don’t cross is to gouge sick people on the price of medicines their lives depend on.

Unless, of course, you count executives of giant pharmaceutical corporations as human beings. Gouging patients is their preferred business model.

It’s a scream, then, to watch Big Pharma fall into a sky-is-falling fit over our government’s long-overdue move to give patients some bargaining power over this monopolistic industry. Under President Joe Biden’s anti-inflation policy passed last year, our Medicare program can now negotiate drug prices on our behalf.

This will drastically lower what you and I are now forced to pay to the profiteers for certain drugs.

For decades, Congress has coddled the corporate gougers who maintain by far the biggest lobbying army in Washington, allowing them to manipulate patent laws and rig the system. As a result, we Americans pay two-to-three times more than people in other countries for the exact same medicines.

“Oh,” wail drug executives, “bloated profits give us the incentive to keep developing innovative new cures.” Hold it right there, Slick — most basic drug development is done by tax-funded medical researchers, not brand-name market hucksters.

Mega-drug outfits like Johnson & Johnson, Merck, and Bristol Myers spend more on advertising, exorbitant executive salaries, lobbying, and big stockholder payouts than on research. Still, these same greedhounds are suing Biden, howling that making them negotiate is an unconstitutional “taking” of their income.

But hello — these scoundrels have been taking our income, health, and lives for years.

I’m with Biden on this — as is 80 percent of the public (including 77 percent of Republicans) who favor making the gougers negotiate. To stay informed and involved, connect with Public Citizen at citizen.org.

James Hightower is an American syndicated columnist, progressive political activist, and author.