The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Drug companies attack

Dec 1, 2003

In November a judge for the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals closed down Rx Depot, a business set up to provide lower-priced prescription drugs from Canada. The judge said the business was engaged in "illegal activity determined by Congress to harm the public interest."

What is the public interest that was harmed? The U.S. government claims that drugs imported from Canada don't meet the supposed high standards demanded in this country. A Food and Drug Administration spokesperson claimed, "We can't ensure the safety and quality of those products."

What a joke! What standards? In recent years, the FDA has been relaxing its standards so that drugs can get more quickly to market. As a result, the number of deaths and severe reactions caused by new drugs has increased several times over.

Three hundred fifty-four times last year, the pharmaceutical industry recalled drugs after suits, multiple deaths or doctors' protests.

The legal drug industry pressures Congress to keep the importation of prescription drugs illegal. Does this protect the consumer from poorly manufactured drugs? The answer was "NO" – at least 354 times that the industry itself was forced to admit. The only interests this recent court ruling protects are those of the drug manufacturers. The real issue here is not standards. It's prices – and therefore profits.

Prices charged in Canada are between 10 and 50% lower, even when the drugs sold in Canadian pharmacies come directly from these same U.S. drug manufacturers. And the drug manufacturers make profits in Canada too – just not as much as they can make here. The drug industry's profits are five times higher than the average profits of all the Fortune 500 largest U.S. corporations. The FDA, the Congress, the administration and the courts gang up together to give U.S. pharmaceutical companies free rein to make a killing – literally and figuratively.