Pharma’s Legal Hypocrisy Defending High Drug Prices

A recent blog post on Philly.com by pharmaceutical industry expert Daniel Hoffman, Ph.D., exposes the hypocrisy of pharma’s addictions to high U.S. drug prices and deceptive marketing. Dr. Hoffman asserts that because the pharmaceutical industry is doing a bad job at generating revenues with new and innovative medications, and even flailing in its “me-too” drug business model,  it has shifted to “economic hypocrisy and legal sophistry” to protect and generate revenue. Its shift may also be caused by increasing use of generics and compulsory licensing (allowing generic competition in spite of current patents), as well as the flat-out uproar against high drug prices, especially in the U.S.

Dr. Hoffman used data from our “American Made; Cheaper Abroad” series to highlight the incredible price gap between domestic and foreign prices of American made drugs. A price gap should exist; there’s nothing wrong with companies setting different prices in different countries. Poorer countries pay lower prices, and richer countries pay higher prices. The problem is that drug prices are excessively high in the U.S., so much so that they are often unaffordable for tens of millions of middle class Americans. The pharmaceutical industry takes advantage of a global economy and free trade agreements to keep manufacturing costs down and maximize patent terms. Despite reaping the rewards of globalization, the industry continues to try to prevent consumers from doing so, as exemplified by its efforts to stop Maine’s progressive law that facilitates safe personal drug importation. The industry’s bogus safety arguments about personal drug importation failed to stop the law from passing and now the drug and U.S. pharmacy industries are turning to the courts to protect profits.

Dr. Hoffman explains other legal ploys recently used by pharma, primarily to defend against charges of deceptive marketing practices. Johnson & Johnson, claiming its rights of due process were violated, tried to invalidate a request for documents by the City of Chicago in part because the city used an outside law firm that would receive a percentage of any settlement. In other words, J&J argued that by earning a percentage of a potential settlement, the law firm’s incentive to win was too strong and thus unfair to J&J! Facing similar charges, Merck argued against the Kentucky Attorney General’s similar arrangement with an outside law firm. A judge ruled against Merck’s complaint.

To quote the author, “So pharma vigorously seeks justice from the legal system when it tries to prevent foreign countries from exercising compulsory licensing (i.e. breaking patents), while it also claims the public’s representatives shouldn’t be allowed to obtain first-rate legal counsel.” Pharma is trying to create an unfair playing field, both in the legal area and within the global economy.

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Janumet, manufactured in the USA weekly series identifying prescription drugs manufactured in America and their prices.

Janumet (Sitagliptin Metformin HCL) is a popular prescription drug that combines two different diabetes medications, Januvia (sitagliptin) and metformin. Janumet is only for individuals with type II diabetes. It is manufactured by Patheon in the U.S., and is marketed by Merck. Despite being made in the U.S., the price for Janumet is much lower for Americans who choose to order it from a verified international online pharmacy rather than a U.S. pharmacy. From the former, 180 pills of Janumet 50/500 mg costs $172. From the latter, the same quantity costs a staggering $1,050. That’s a 83% savings, or $3,512 over the course of one year.

Find a verified international online pharmacy today.

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Death Penalty Medication Imported; Safe Prescription Drugs Banned – A Poor Prescription for America

EU FlagAlthough the U.S. technically bans the personal importation of affordable and safe drugs that help people stay or get healthy (for example Merck’s asthma medication Singulair, sold in other countries for a fraction of the price found in U.S. pharmacies, is not technically FDA-approved due to different packaging), we waive our drug importation laws when it comes to European Union-produced sodium thiopental – a non-FDA-approved version, for lethal injections.

Sodium thiopental is a required sedative in U.S. executions, and earlier this year the only U.S. manufacturer ceased producing it. For this reason, we now rely on EU imports – a practice that is getting more and more difficult, as export controls have been strengthened on their end because our EU allies oppose the death penalty.

We find it sad and ironic that our government facilitates the importation of a drug used for executions, regardless of one’s position on the death penalty, but refuses to loosen restrictions on personal importation for drugs that help Americans live.

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The Protect Intellectual Property Act – S.968 Will Prevent Access To Medicines

Last Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed S. 968, Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011, also known as the Protect IP Act. Its passage represents a real threat to Americans’ access to safe and affordable medications online and we hope that as the bill makes its way through the legislative process it will be amended appropriately.

Essentially, the bill will make it easier to crackdown on rogue pharmacy sites selling fake meds and not requiring a prescription, which is great; however, it will also encourage actions to block Americans’ access to reputable and affordable non-U.S. online pharmacies that sell genuine medication and require a prescription, which are a lifeline for uninsured Americans. That’s because of Section 5, which includes in its definition of “infringing sites” online pharmacies that sell medications to Americans that are not manufactured in a facility approved by the FDA. (more…)

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