POLICY: Rebuttal and rebuke from The Industry Veteran on free (or not) markets and (legal) drug trade

And you thought all the verbal jousting was happening in the swing states. We at THCB find that nothing gets the blood and vituperation flowing as much as talk about drugs and money changing hands, such as these contributions from last week. As you might expect, one particular contributor was not too impressed by what he read. Herewith, the temperate and dulcet tones of The Industry Veteran on the complications of free market analyses (or why the free market in healthcare won’t work, but free trade/reimportation of drugs might), and on the sad downward spiral of the editorial function at THCB:

What the hell is going on? Are you turning your Blog over to free-market assholes ideologues? What’s next, changing the name from THCB to SSOB (Softer Side of Bush)? Who are your recent contributors, physicians? As many times as I’ve told you, you still don’t seem to get it. Whenever a physician says anything involving money, presume until proven otherwise that his/her motives are venality and avarice. It is not for nothing that pharmaceutical reps (i.e., salaried corrupters) refer to the physicians in their territories as “my whores.”

Well it’s a slow morning, so let me again show how your new contributors’ brains are on drugs.

1. The market is the true faith of right-wingers.
The bedrock premise of your poison pen jackals consists of their belief that the market will remedy all the ills of our healthcare system. Are drug prices and health insurance premiums too high? Is access too limited and quality too disparate? The market in its omniscient wisdom will cure all. Were it only so.

Healthcare in the US is such a corrupt racket that it actually would improve if it moved to either a more socialized or a more genuine market system. Several endemic factors, however, make the idea of a self-correcting market system little more than a dream of the great beyond. Contrary to the requirement of multitudinous producers, none of whom can affect prices, most of the manufacturing markets (drugs, diagnostic and therapeutic devices) are oligopolies. Competition among them is thwarted by an anti-competitive, patent system. The top of the labor component, physicians, is a market-snuffing guild that defies supply and demand — a higher concentration of physicians in a geographic area drives up their fees, rather than the converse. The distribution of knowledge among component segments of the healthcare system is wildly asymmetrical, something that allows physicians (and manufacturers who promote to these dishonest brokers) to enjoy an inherent, conflict-of-interest position. I could go on, but suffice it to say that US healthcare can never be more than a Frankenstein’s monster version of a market system.

2. A single payer system inevitably produces rationing that reduces the access and quality of healthcare.
This is ultimate fright wig that greedheads pull out of the closet to discourage a more centralized government planning and paying role. Those poor, neglected Canadians. They live longer than us, they suffer lower rates of infant mortality, and their other indices of health quality are better than ours. The US healthcare system is so demonstrably superior that we pay more per capita for healthcare than any country in the world but our rank in terms of results places us 12th or 14th.

3. We should clamp down on reimportation because the pharmaceutical industry’s charity programs are all we need to provide drugs at affordable prices.
…and the Easter bunny puts quarters underneath your pillow when you lose a tooth. Shame on you, Matthew, for recirculating this garbage. Didn’t a recent posting of yours link to a study that showed the thorough inadequacy of the drug company cards? Why are you trying to court favor with these theocratic fascists? They have enough outlets of their own.

4. Reimportation brings in dangerous drugs.
That’s pure fiction, but if your Dick Cheney-Zell Miller contributors suggest that it’s inefficient for a large segment of the US population to receive its medications through Canada and the UK, their observation about a dog walking on four legs is hardly worthwhile. If the drug supply of a country with high quality standards becomes problematic because of sales back to the US, one of their politicians will relieve the supply problem without choking off a source of domestic profits by invoking compulsory licensing, i.e., breaking the patents and allowing the production of rigorously monitored generics.

Instead of trying to strong-arm other countries into paying what your greedheads call “their fair share,” Big Pharma and its US government lackeys will have to learn that they can still do very well by trading away price in return for added volume. I know that malefactors of great wealth seldom relinquish their cartels voluntarily, so Big Pharma will be brought kicking and screaming into some new realities. In the meanwhile, the sophistry and plutocratic rationalization (i.e., bullshit) for exorbitant pricing that one of your posters throws around (an “insurance policy” against “an increasingly hostile and unpredictable global regulatory environment”) is nauseating.

5. US drug prices are actually lower than Canada’s.
Tell your right-wing posters to kiss my colitis-scented ass. If I’m not mistaken, didn’t you also have a prior posting that exposed such PhRMA-sponsored drivel for the fraud that it is? If I remember correctly, they played fast and loose with generic products so that their results were not an apples-to-apples comparison. If one compares the prices of branded drugs in the two countries, the Canadian prices are 30%-50% cheaper.

If my tone seems overly hostile, it reflects my sorrow at the abuse you’ve permitted these recent posters to inflict on THCB. Over the years THCB has been an unfailing source of clear thinking and truth about a subject regularly obscured by lowlifes. Why now, of all times, would you bring this vermin in the back door?

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