The other vaccine controversy you need to know about

On the journey to uncover the truth about vaccinations amidst all of the controversy surrounding them, the medical profession (as both you and I know) has responded by burying its collective head in the sand. To the extent that people with opinions outside the mainstream are often outright vilified. (Believe me, I’ve received my fair share of that vitriol over the years.)

The powers-that-be have gone to great lengths to convince you that anti-vaxxers like Jenny McCarthy are crazy. That they’re jeopardizing the health of American children with their half-baked claims about autism, and that they’re spreading the gospel of pseudo-science in place of cold, hard facts.

Now, I’m not going to jump down that particular rabbit hole today — though I do have plenty of opinions on the subject. Let’s not forget that the world’s greatest inventions were once considered crazy ideas, too. And medical standards are particularly prone to this kind of evolution. (Just think about our changing attitudes toward carbs and fat.)

The fact is, we don’t know what we don’t know until we know it. I just hate that the medical community, which used to have so many innovative and imaginative thinkers, has somehow been reduced to a bunch of namby-pamby followers of the pied piper that is Big Pharma.

It’s this blind devotion that really raises an eyebrow when the subject of vaccines comes up. And it remains a valid concern whether you’re a proponent of vaccination or not. Why?

Because we’re also facing another kind of vaccine crisis in the United States. More specifically, a shortage — which means that even if you want vaccines, soon, you may not be able to get them.

Get this: Unlike patented drugs for chronic diseases, price markups on vaccines — particularly the older ones — are modest. And in case you weren’t aware (and even I didn’t know this until the other day) the federal government buys most childhood vaccines in this country as part of a government program aimed at providing vaccinations to low-income children.

So pharmaceutical companies have little incentive to pump money into producing the more established vaccines. They cite everything from complicated manufacturing processes, to the costs of dealing with contamination issues… blah, blah, blah.

As a result, we’re facing an artificial “shortage.”

If you ask me, this all just sounds like an excuse to swindle the public out of more money. Especially given the fact that most vaccines are now made by just a couple of manufacturers. When you have a virtual monopoly, it’s all too easy to create this kind of artificial shortage.

It also means they can hold public health hostage until we pony up more cash…and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

And I have to wonder… does anyone other than me think this is wrong? Especially when these companies already charge hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for their new drugs — and make an obscene fortune doing so.

Shouldn’t drug companies do something in the public interest? And if they won’t do it on their own, isn’t it time we reconsidered giving Big Pharma so much power over our country’s medical system?

As a physician, the federal government dictates what I am allowed to charge to see a Medicare patient. No one likes to lose money…but come on. I accept this legislation in the belief that many older people on fixed incomes deserve a break.

Talk about a double standard, though: Analysts insist that we need to ensure generous payments for vaccines in order to protect the national supply. In fact, they want us to accept a 10 percent increase in the price of the vaccines. Ludicrous? YES.

How about one less flight in a private jet for the CEOs of the vaccine-manufacturing companies? Or one less zero at the end of their already fat paychecks? Surely, that makes more sense than pulling even more out of the pockets of the American people.

Big Pharma can afford to bite the bullet on vaccines. A small profit is better than none at all. But sadly, I’m not convinced our government has the guts to tell them where they can stick that extra 10 percent.