From the Left



How Things Work: Big Pharma Price Gouging

Jim Hightower on

Corporate and governmental hucksters intentionally cloak their schemes in convoluted obfuscations so that we commoners can't really know what they're saying -- or doing -- to us.

That's why our Hightower Lowdown team takes pride in regularly trying to deconstruct their arcane jargon, translating it into plain language. Recently, for example, I pointed out the slick deceit in Big Pharma's assertion that its outrageously-high drug prices are just a factor of "core cost recovery." Huh? That's supposed to mean that it costs a lot to do basic research for discovering new medicines, so they must recover those costs.

"But wait!" I hollered: Basic drug research is not paid for by brand-name corporate monopolists. Rather, this essential humane work is done by such public entities as the National Institutes of Health -- paid for by us taxpayers. And it's a huge tax-paid subsidy to these private profiteers. In 2020, a study by the Institute for New Economic Thinking ( laid out the scam in stark terms: "Taxpayers have been footing the bill for every new drug approved between 2010 and 2019." Hello -- every new drug!

The institute's study traced the funding of 356 new drugs approved in that period, finding that a whopping $230 billion in public-financed research paid for the basic science that created the medicines. In what the researchers called "a robust pipeline" to industry, monopolistic patents were then obtained on those ingredients by Big Pharma to market drugs made possible by the "scientific capital" we taxpayers invested.

For drug profiteers, this is manna from heaven. The system hands new drug products to them, letting them arbitrarily fix prices that enrich their investors with nearly double the profit levels of the other corporate powers. If you suspect the system is rigged to gouge you -- there it is!


Oh, thank God for Ted Cruz! Once again, the far-right-wing U.S. senator is saving you and me from a political horror that doesn't exist.


This is Ted's specialty, for he seems unable to deal with the real economic and social problems that workaday people actually have. Thus, he constantly tries to divert attention from his senatorial incompetence by staging embarrassing political stunts, such as his furious fulminations against Big Bird, Mickey Mouse and other fictional characters. Unable to triumph over them, however, Cruz is now conjuring up entirely fictional conflicts to let him (a Harvard-educated elitist) pose as a hero of working-class commoners.

Beer drinkers, for example. The Cruzer recently swooped onto a Republican TV show, squawking like Chicken Little that President Joe Biden intended to restrict us Americans to only two beers a week! Oh, the horror. "What is it with liberals that want to control every damn aspect of your life?" squealed the senator (who, by the way, does want government to control every woman's reproductive rights, people's voting rights, the rights of labor, what books people can read, etc., etc.).

But Ted's in a tizzy over Biden's two-beer limit. Only... there's no such thing. Actually, Biden has said nothing about beer -- zero, zilch. Joe's kinda busy -- you know, Ukraine, climate change, health care... real problems -- so unlike the little senator from Texas, he doesn't have time to play political pickleball.

Embarrassingly, such other GOP officials as Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst have joined Cruz's screwball crusade to stop Bidens nonexistent Beer Bust. It's like they all went to clown school to learn to be "senatorial." As for Ted, his nonstop series of nutty PR antics reveals that he is to a real senator what near beer is to beer -- only not nearly as close.

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