Big Pharma is in the mood to share! A new report commissioned by the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the trade association representing the world’s largest global pharmaceutical companies, seems to assert that the blame for high drug prices should be shared with pharmacy benefit managers, retail pharmacies, wholesalers, and, I think, even hospitals – and more. It appears that PhRMA’s main target is the pharmaceutical benefit managers.
Noting that President Donald Trump recently said drug companies are “getting away with murder” – I view this report as pharma’s attempt to communicate, “hey, prez, we’re not alone here in being greedy.” The report has merit, which I’ll explain below when looking at the dollar numbers. But as far as the American consumer is concerned: murder is murder. Hey, I’m just using the president’s words. Due to the killing made by pharma and friends (because they’re all friends), 10s of millions of Americans are leaving their scripts unfilled because the prices, one way or the other, are out of reach.
A bill was introduced in the House of Representatives last week that would make repeat counterfeit drug offenders subject to 20-year maximum jail-terms with $4 million fines for individuals and $10 million if the defendant is an entity. PharmacyChecker.com applauds the introduction of H.R.3468, Counterfeit Drug Penalty Act of 2011, as we believe, if passed, it will act as a deterrent against individuals and businesses who endanger the public health by manufacturing and selling medication that is not subject to government regulations and oversight at best, and deadly at worst.
We also recognize that the bill’s language is clear not to blur the distinction between counterfeit and safe imported medication. The bill states:
Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, shall be construed to apply to a drug (as defined in section 201 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 321)) solely because the drug is manufactured in or imported from a foreign country.
In contrast, the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act, now before Congress, defines all personally imported medicine, including genuine medication as a threat to the “public health.” This should be opposed. This language appears based on the lobbying rhetoric of the pharmaceutical industry to confuse lawmakers and consumers into believing the false proposition that all personally imported medicine purchased through online pharmacies is counterfeit. Thus, it’s a positive development that H.R. 3468 is crystal clear about the difference between counterfeit and imported drugs.
Stopping drug counterfeiters, whether they infiltrate the domestic supply chain by selling products to U.S. pharmacies or export dangerous drugs ordered online directly to Americans, protects the public health. The Counterfeit Drug Penalty Act seems to go after the real bad guys while not interfering with access to safe and affordable imported medicine and we hope it passes soon.