It’s disappointing — but hardly surprising — that even in the middle of a global pandemic, drug corporations have continued to hike the prices of drugs people depend on for their health and–sometimes–even their survival. While Americans started 2021 facing the worst health and economic crisis in modern history, drug corporations rang in the New Year by raising their prices on more than 300 drugs.
Today David and Kathe Sackler will try to shift blame away from their family corporation, Purdue Pharma, despite overwhelming evidence that the corporation’s exploitative marketing fueled a man-made epidemic that killed hundreds of thousands of people while making them huge profits. But Americans from all walks of life and in every corner of the nation who have suffered the consequences of opioid addiction know all too well the role that drug corporations like Purdue have played in destroying millions of lives.
When we say that personnel is policy, this is precisely what we mean. Confirmation of President-elect Biden’s nominee, Xavier Becerra, would be a significant step toward putting affordable healthcare and prescription drugs within reach for all. Becerra has a wealth of experience in promoting affordable healthcare, including his work to strengthen the Affordable Care Act while in Congress, defending the law against legal attacks from the Trump Administration, and holding pharmaceutical corporations accountable for price gouging while Attorney General in California.
The Centers for Disease Control’s commitment to make distribution of the COVID vaccine fair, equitable, and transparent is encouraging. We know that this pandemic has disproportionately impacted Black, Latino and Native American communities across the country, and the federal government must ensure that those most affected by the health and economic devastation caused by this virus have affordable access to vaccines and treatments.
This action is too little, too late from a president that’s had four years to lower the cost of prescription drugs. It’s just the latest example in a long list of PR stunts from an administration that’s done nothing to hold Big Pharma accountable for hiking prices anytime they want to boost profits, or to make medicines affordable for millions who need them.
The news that Moderna’s vaccine, which is 100% funded by taxpayers according to the company, is highly effective is exciting. We look forward to the peer reviewed studies to confirm the findings. In the meantime, lawmakers should ensure that our significant taxpayer investments result in affordable access to this historic vaccine by passing the MMAPPP Act to end monopoly control over drug prices.
We’re so encouraged by President-elect Biden’s commitment to getting the COVID-19 crisis under control, in particular his emphasis that the distribution of a vaccine be ‘equitable and efficient.’
At the same time, let’s correct the record: these medicines are not ‘free’ — taxpayers have already paid more than $12 billion in taxpayer dollars to pharmaceutical corporations for their development and distribution. And until we end monopoly control over drug prices, we will continue to be at the mercy of Big Pharma who will put their profits over public health sooner or later, just as they’ve done with insulin, EPI Pens and HIV drugs.