I don’t know what this says about me, but a crazy, almost giddy feeling comes over me whenever I have the opportunity to help expose the evils of Big Pharma.
So what brought me so much glee today? It appears as though the FDA is finally making good on its promise to crack down on pharmaceutical companies who exploit the system to suppress competition from generic drugs.
Now before you look out your window to see if pigs are flying, reflect on this scenario for a moment. The US Food and Drug Administration knows that Big Pharma has been blocking competition illegally… and yet, they’ve done nothing up to this point to stop them from picking your pocket at the prescription counter.
Now they’re releasing a list of names.
Personally, it’d be nice if FDA enacted penalties or fines rather than just outing them — something tangible to hurt their precious bottom line. But of course, when it comes to American healthcare, we have to take what we can get.
The FDA posted the list on their website back in May. And it features dozens of companies who the FDA claims have refused to give samples to interested companies looking to make generic versions of their drugs. (Prescription drug samples are needed for testing purposes. And without this testing, companies can’t apply to the FDA for generic approval.)
Ultimately, it took hundreds of complaints for them to finally hand the case over to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), which routinely handles these types of competition-suppressing business tactics.
And when the FTC started investigated, the companies’ response to these accusations were still about as opaque as you might expect.
For instance, one big drug company, Celgene, says it would be happy to accommodate requests for samples, “subject to reasonable safety-related and business requirements.” No word on what those “reasonable” requirements are, but you have to wonder…
Meanwhile, Novartis had this to say: “[We] disagree with the inclusion of our products on the list. To our knowledge, there are no restrictions preventing generic manufacturers from accessing these Novartis products and we have communicated that to generics companies that have contacted Novartis with similar requests.”
Now, how many lawyers do you think it took to craft those two sentences? And how much money did they spend on defending their failure to support generic drug manufacturing?
This is a real travesty, especially when there are people dying because they can’t afford their prescriptions.
I could rant for days about the dodgy practices on display here, but enough said. The greed at work in this situation is beyond shameless. These companies are evil — and although I’m happy to see them outed, it’s just not enough. Last I checked, publicly naming corporate villains is not adequate protection from them.
Our interests have been abandoned so that the 1 percent can continue to get richer. And if you’re not scared by this, you should be.