Sanders joins rally against 'big pharma greed' at lobbying HQ

-A A +A

Sanders joins rally against 'big pharma greed' at lobbying HQ

Tue, 09/21/2021 - 12:01pm -- tim
Vermont Business Magazine Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) Tuesday joined a rally with People’s Action at the headquarters of the pharmaceutical industry’s D.C. lobbying operation to protest the drug companies' relentless pursuit of profits at the expense of everyday people and their fierce opposition to the budget reconciliation bill that will lower the costs of prescription drugs.

Sanders’ remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

“I have no doubt that within pharmaceutical companies there are some wonderful scientists who are doing extraordinary and amazing work researching innovative new drugs to save and improve lives.

“But let’s be very clear. The overriding motivation of the pharmaceutical industry is greed. Their overriding goal is to make as much money as they can by squeezing as much as they possibly can out of the sick, out of the elderly and out of the desperate.

“It’s no great secret that we, in the United States of America, pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. In some cases, we pay ten times as much for prescription drugs as do the people in countries like Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Australia.

“On two occasions, I have taken people over the border to Canada to purchase insulin and the breast cancer drug tamoxifen for one-tenth of the price that they were paying in the United States. I will never forget the tears in the eyes of women who were able to buy these life-saving drugs for a fraction of the price that they were paying in the U.S.

“In America today, nearly one out of every four Americans cannot afford the medications that their doctors prescribe. How insane is that?

“What this means is that millions of people get sicker, some end up in emergency rooms at great cost, and others unnecessarily lose their lives. That should not be happening in the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world.

“According to a study last year by epidemiologists at Yale University, some 68,000 Americans die each and every year because they cannot afford to get the health care that they need when they need it. While we do not know the exact number, there is no doubt that many thousands of Americans die every year because they cannot afford to fill their prescription drugs.

“In other words, the greed of the prescription drug industry is literally killing Americans.

“While millions of Americans cannot afford the outrageous price of prescription drugs, pharmaceutical companies are making obscene profits and paying their executives exorbitant compensation packages.

“Last year alone, the six largest drug companies in the U.S. made nearly $50 billion dollars in profits, while the ten highest paid pharmaceutical executives made over $500 million dollars in total compensation.

“And what does the pharmaceutical industry do with these profits?

“Well, over the past 20 years, they have spent over $4.5 billion on lobbying and hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign contributions.

“They employ nearly 1,500 lobbyists in Washington, DC alone - including the former congressional leaders in both major political parties. Got that? That’s almost three prescription drug lobbyists for every Member of Congress.

“Well, what do they get for that huge investment? They get to raise the price of prescription drugs at any time they want for any amount that they want. What that means is that the price that you were paying for your life-saving medication yesterday could literally double or triple overnight for no reason other than greed.

“In other words, the prescription drug industry, through their wealth and their power and their ability to bribe Members of Congress with massive campaign contributions can get away with ripping-off the American people by charging whatever outrageous price that the market will bear for prescription drugs.

“And today, as we speak, the prescription drug industry is at it again. They are spending many millions of dollars on campaign contributions, on TV ads and on lobbying in order to defeat the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill that will finally lower the price of prescription drugs by giving Medicare the ability to negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry.

“According to a Gallup poll that was done in June of this year, 81% of the American people support this policy because they understand that Medicare should not be paying twice as much for the same exact prescription drugs as the Veterans Administration.

“If the VA can negotiate with the pharmaceutical companies to substantially reduce the price of prescription drugs, you know what? We must empower Medicare to do so as well.

“For far too long, the business model of the pharmaceutical industry has been fraud.

“For far too long, it has not been Congress that has been regulating the pharmaceutical industry. It has been the pharmaceutical industry that has been regulating Congress.

“So, today, we tell the pharmaceutical industry: Your days of calling the shots in Washington, DC are over.

“All over this country, the American people are asking a simple question: How many people need to die, how many people need to get unnecessarily sicker before Congress is prepared to take on the greed of the prescription drug industry?

“Enough is enough. A life-saving prescription drug does not work if you cannot afford to buy it.

“Yes, we are going to pass the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill.

“Yes, we are going to substantially reduce the outrageous price of prescription drugs in America.

“Yes, we are going to stand up to your greed.

“Yes, we are going to require Medicare to negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry.

“And when we do that, by the way, we will not only reduce prescription drug prices in America, but we will use the savings to expand Medicare to cover eyeglasses, hearing aids and dental care – something that should have been done a long, long time ago.”

 Source: WASHINGTON, Sept. 21 – Senator Bernie Sanders