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Price Gouging By Big Pharma And The Opioid Epidemic

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For the past several decades, the use of drugs in America have caused enumeral deaths, and broken millions of families. Although the drug in question has shifted from year to year, they all shared one in common, they were all illegal. Over time, through the efforts of the US Government, the numbers began to fade on the side of illegality, but for some reason, the death toll continued to rise. But what was causing all of these unnecessary deaths? The answer, over the counter prescription opioids. By year, the number of deaths stemming from prescription opioids, have leaped from 3,000 in 2013 to approximately 70,000 Americans. This sudden rise in can be traced back to a myriad of other events in modern history, but it’s the search for cures to disease that spiked it the most. The Pharmaceutical industry, or Big Pharma has been called on numerous times, and have been given billions in funding to find cures, but while their intention may seem good, they have contributed vastly to the over prescribing of opioids. They have let their drugs run rampant across the United States and unless something is done, Big Pharma will continue to profit off others suffering.

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The act of price gouging has often been seen as a shady business tactic when performed by almost any company, and it’s no different for Big Pharma. Dozens of pharmaceutical companies have begun to raise their prices as much as 500% in order to cover costs that can cover any misdoings. Turing, along with Valeant Pharmaceuticals, and even King/Mylan, creators of the life-saving EpiPen, have been the victims of scrutiny from a majority of Senators for the rise in price. Purdue Pharmaceuticals, is yet another offender, as they previously labeled the potency of their Oxycontin as being much weaker than they actually are. If any of these names sound familiar, that’s because many of them have come under scrutiny from the media, with Perdue being a standout. While this media attention is finally showing the masses that Big Pharma don’t have their best intentions in mind, it’s far from the justice that needs to be dealt to them.

In today’s political climate, opinions and messages are often pushed through the use of lobbyists, or people paid to support a cause. While they seem to cause no harm, like price gouging, lobbyists are seen as being a malpractice. Once again, Big Pharma is not above this, as they too spend millions of dollars to sway the opinions of the opposition. In Minnesota, during recent a meeting among lawmakers that discussed the ongoing drug threat, Jessica Nickel, a well known advocate against Big Pharma, and opioid abuse sat in, and had some interesting things to say. Nickel sided with Big Pharma on nearly every point, and raised suspicions that she had been payed off as a lobbyist by Big Pharma themselves. Nickel isn’t the only one on Big Pharma’s payroll, as Turing Pharmaceuticals payed dozens of lobbyists to defend their recent increase in prices. Turing is no stranger to controversy, as their former CEO Martin Shkreli was recently convicted regarding the raise in price. Lobbyists need to be dealt with by our leaders, since they alone have caused a standstill among legislators looking to make a difference.

Like most harmful things, the spread of opioids has been far more efficient in causing pain than it has been in getting people help. Although the death toll has skyrocketed in past years, it is early enough to stop the spread, and many already have. Along with the many restrictions the US government has laid across Big Pharma, they also hold one final trump card that could turn the tide in their favor. Through the use of a federal law known as Section 1498, Big Pharma would be forced to create low-cost, low-addictive version of their prescriptions. While it has never been implemented in the past, as stated in the article, and other like it, it could potentially solve the problem by creating a downturn in profits, which could cause Pharma to limit funding for lobbyists and other scapegoats. Alternatively, states could wait out the storm, as in recent report from the world renowned newspaper New York Times, early signs feel that 2017 and 2018 could be the peak of the epidemic. The use of either method could be instrumental in helping to expose Big Pharma to its crimes and greed.

The Opioid Epidemic has quickly become one of the most deadly and difficult stateside issues the US has ever faced, as its effects sweep far beyond the confines of a single area. While states like New York and West Virginia have been hit hard by the Epidemic, it could begin to reach the greater land of America, since Big Pharma continues to promote and expand the sale of their drugs. The Opioid Epidemic is not just an issue for the thousands of families torn apart, but the nation as a whole, as it can affect nearly anybody at anytime. Addiction is not just something that happens suddenly to a person, it’s seated deep within their genetics and can strike at anytime. We as a nation need to stand together and call out Big Pharma for the ethical problems they’ve caused, and families they’ve divided. 

10 Jun 2021

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