This week, Wendell Potter, healthcare advocate and publisher of non-profit media outlet Tarbell, called out a slew of drug industry experts for undermining efforts to lower drug prices. This includes the likes of Sally Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute, the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies, and the Partnership for Safe Medicines. All use the specter of counterfeit drugs and the opioid crisis to scare the American public away from safe personal importation via online pharmacies.
Recipients of Drug Company Donations
Who is called out?
- Sally Pipes, from the Pacific Research Institute, because in an op-ed opposing drug importation, Ms. Pipes obtusely connects Americans ordering drugs from Canada with the many tragic deaths in low-income countries from counterfeit drugs.
- The Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP) for peddling false information about World Health Organization studies and counterfeit drugs.
- The Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) for using the opioid crisis as a tool to oppose importation of regular, less expensive prescription medicine.
All of those people and groups are the direct or indirect recipients of donations from drug companies who oppose policies to lower drug prices. They are defending patent games, such as pay-for-delay and evergreening, which keep lower-cost generics off the U.S. market; the ban on Medicare negotiating drug prices; trade agreements to force our patent laws on other countries; or prescription drug importation restrictions, “experts” and “non-profits” funded by PhRMA peddle bunk.
ASOP, PSM, and Sally Pipes Challenge Americans’ Access to Affordable Medications
When it comes to importation, however, I do find their efforts particularly sinister. For most policies to lower drug prices, such as ending the ban on Medicare negotiating drug prices, Congress needs to pass a law. But personal importation of medicines happens now, and it saves lives now, despite the federal prohibition. The work of the groups called out by Wendell undermines a safe channel of affordable medicine.
Wendell knows about industry spin doctors! He was once a PR corporate communication guru for big health insurance companies who is now advocating for healthcare for all and lower drug prices in America. His closing paragraph speaks volumes:
“We can’t let the drug industry continue its unchecked propaganda against the safe, evidence-based importation of cheaper drugs from online pharmacies. The pharmaceutical industry — and the shills the drug industry is using to spread its propaganda — need to be called out so Americans can finally enjoy the drug price relief they deserve to stay healthy and alive.”
To pull back a little, there are shades of gray with these pharma-funded groups and people. Counterfeit drugs are real. The opioid crisis is frighteningly real right here at home. Some of the work done by the aforementioned people and groups helps bring those crises to public attention, but I believe they blatantly ignore the crisis of high drug prices. As I see it, they weaken their efforts and therefore their efficacy by misdirection and misleading talking points about online pharmacy safety, leading people to forgo affordable medicine and undermining legislation to regulate the importation of safe and effective, lower-cost medicines.
Read the Tarbell article here: Here’s how the drug industry funds ‘experts’ to discredit efforts to lower pricesTagged with: Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies, Partnership for Safe Medicines, Sally Pipes, Wendell Potter