FITE: Drug Companies Rip Off Seniors

Newsletter #31

We met a truck driver, Bob, about a year ago in the course of our campaign against state budget cuts. “How are you doing?” we asked. “I’m doing OK, but my Mom’s not.” He explained that “Since the budget cuts have started, she isn’t eating.” And, he added, “What good are meds if she can’t afford to eat?”

Hoping the new Medicare cards proudly trumpeted by the Bush people would get her eating full meals again, we asked Bob last week how his mother was doing. He said he had just visited her the day before, and there still wasn’t much food in her refrigerator.

We later found out the reason. According to AARP, the nations largest advocate for seniors, the drug companies started raising the prices of the drugs most used by seniors much faster than usual just before Medicare cards were introduced. The result is that seniors like Bob’s mom, the ones most in need of the discounts, will get no benefit whatsoever. Meanwhile, the seniors who can afford supplementary insurance will help to fatten even more the coffers of the drug companies.

A percentage of these seniors will die prematurely, constituting part of the 18,000 deaths each year of people without health insurance.

Meanwhile, drug companies will make out like bandits they are, making profits that are the envy of the Fortune 500. They will reinvest little of their profits in new drug development. Hundreds of them in the industry invested so little in research that all of them together produced only 7 genuinely new drugs last year.

Instead, they invest in what are, in effect, bribes. These bribes, called “campaign contributions” in the nation’s press, can earn up to 30,000% return on investment. Seventy drug companies paid $5 million dollars for the right to sell the discount cards. In addition, the drug barons of the drug industry bribe doctors to prescribe drugs that are more expensive but no better than the older and cheaper drugs.

And of course these drug barons got an ample share. These CEOs “deserved” it, of course, for the hard work they put into arranging the discount card fraud. Including the value of stock options, many of these embezzlers make well over $100 million a year, which works out to more per HOUR than the average worker makes in a YEAR.

By the way, as of this writing, we heard that Bob’s mother has just been rushed to the hospital.

Charles Palson


Sources and further reading:

“Study Blames 18,000 Deaths in USA on Lack of Insurance,” Steve Sternberg, USA Today

“AARP: Drug Prices Jumped in Early 2004,” Mark Sherman, AP

“The Truth About the Drug Companies,” Marcia Angell

“Investigators Say Drug Makers Repeatedly Overcharged,” Robert Pear

So are we all shocked and surprised? This is why the bill was written the way it was: drug company lobbyists wrote it, the AARP–which is now bitching about it–supported it, and the Republican Congress dutifully passed it. It was a brilliant piece of stealth legislation, hiding its real purpose behind a ‘compassionate’ front that Junior will campaign on as if it were real, naturally.

People, we have got to stop letting ourselves be suckered like this. We got tricked into a bill that pretends to help seniors pay for their drugs when what it really does is let the drug industry make a lot more money by forcing Bob’s Mom and millions like her to choose between medication and food. We need to start catching these tricks before they become law, not after.