American’s are forced to rely on Big Pharma to lead the way in developing a Covid-19 vaccine. Given the pharmaceutical industry’s history, there remains a cause for concern.
For the last several weeks, the US (and global) economy has come to a standstill as a result of the Covid-19 lock down. However, one industry is not only surviving, but thriving. As drug costs consistently increase leaving thousands unable to afford essential medications, public perception regarding Big Pharma as an industry is in question. Especially since this industry is now supposedly leading the way towards a potential Covid-19 vaccine.
Understanding the corruption of Big Pharma
Given the US’ track record on drug costs, fear regarding availability of the Coronavirus vaccine is understandable. Over the last several years, health care costs and drug prices have risen astronomically. It’s no secret, the system in this country is flawed. Excluding the health delivery system and focusing solely on the pharmaceutical aspect, unmasks years of systematic greed.
Within the past few decades, the entire culture towards medication has shifted. Today, Americans take more pills than ever before in recorded history. The dependency of medications is expected to stay, given the considerably large aging population and rise in chronic conditions. Are medical professionals intending on constantly prescribing medications for otherwise ‘treatable’ illness, probably not. However, the reality remains; prescriptions have risen 85% over the last 20 years. The pharmaceutical industry has exponentially grown by creating this ‘pill for everything’ culture. In other words, taking advantage of social and demographic disparities in this country (aging population, low wages, minority access etc.) to milk the profits.
Still, all the blame does not entirely lie on Big Pharma’s shoulders. This industry thrives because of its ability to operate in an industrialism driven bubble. The pharmaceutical industry adjusted in the interest of Capitalism. Big Pharma has successfully been able to build an industry fueled by a hypocritical agenda. Of course, the mission behind pharmaceutical companies seems genuine; research and investment into new treatments. However, capitalism prioritizes financial gains. Resulting in Big Pharma continuously withholding life saving knowledge at the expense of the people it’s supposed to serve.
Special interests are driving the Covid-19 vaccine conversation
Similarly to the gun lobby, pharmaceutical influence in politics is undeniable, regardless of political party. Once again, private interests ($) outweigh public health needs. Big Pharma lobbyists have successfully added $8.3 billion into Covid-19 spending packages to ensure maximum profits post pandemic. The current administration has granted antiviral drugs ‘orphan’ status, allowing big pharma to not only profit, but receive tax credits on clinical drug testing. Many lawmakers oppose the addition, pleading for mass availability. However, the Republican majority dispute the language arguing it ‘restricts the industry’s ability to profit and stifles research and innovation.” Pharmaceutical companies like Eli Lilly and Gilead Sciences stocks have shot up after announcing they will be joining the vaccine development, while most other industries are plummeting.
Can you say conflict of interest?
Trump’s appointed task force to combat this epidemic consists of Alex Azar. Prior to his role as secretary of HHS, he was top lobbyist and President of drug company Eli Lilly. Also on the task force is Joseph Grogan, again a previous lobbyist for Gilead Sciences and current director of Domestic Policy Council. For an administration known for conflicts of interests, this is no surprise. The bulk of Trump’s appointed Covid-19 task force consists of wealthy businessmen with strong ties to private industries, specifically to Big Pharma. As one of the more lucrative sectors of the economy, it’s designed to profit at the expense of its own citizens.
At this point, Americans should be aware of special interests driving the Covid-19 vaccine conversation. Big Pharma once again presents a gilded hoax disguised with sincere intentions. Only time will tell if this is once again an empty promise.
Last week’s post: Gun sales rising during Covid-19