Elizabeth Warren’s Message to Big Pharma: You’re Next!

Elizabeth Warren is known as a darling of the left, challenging the corporate structure and standing up for the rights of the “little guy.” Challenging the powers of Wall Street and their influence in Congress has garnered her a following and a popularity rating that is hard to match for many other politicians in the political arena these days.

Senator Warren has been railing against the banking industry and their inability to “self-regulate” since she was merely a candidate for office. Many of her warnings and rebuttals against the powerful banking industries have struck a chord with the majority of Americans who have been affected by the downturn of the economy coming at the end of President Bush’s final term.

Now she has set her sights on another big industry target: the pharmaceutical industry.

Big Pharma, as it is often referred to, rakes in quite a bit of money in federal funding yet seems to put out a paltry amount back into the system that has made it so successful. According to Warren’s website

Those very valuable blockbuster drugs don’t just appear overnight as if by magic. They are the end result of generations of huge taxpayer investments, principally through the National Institutes of Health. Drug companies make great contributions, but so do taxpayers. Put simply, the astonishing scientific and financial successes of the pharmaceutical industry have been built on a foundation of taxpayer investment.

The pharmaceutical industry is far more profitable than other industries throughout the United States. While most industries which are profitable are pulling between 5-10% profits year in and year out, the pharma industry has consistently shown between 18-24% profit margins. This is due in large part to the life-saving drugs that they have produced as well as the monopoly on a new drug due to patenting. This makes the new drugs that are potentially available for saving the lives of thousands so expensive that few can afford them. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg…

Problems arise, however, and those typically end with pharmaceutical companies paying out big for the federal government Whenever a pharmaceutical company does make mistakes or becomes the recipients of fines for violations occurring due to their negligence or intentional lying about the effects of a particular drug they generally settle out of court rather than face the embarrassment publicly.

What Warren has proposed was that instead of pay those fines back into the bloated federal government, they will instead be allocated to the National Institute of Health (NIH). The NIH is a government-funded and government-run medical research facility with a myriad of top-notch accomplishments. Since the 1970’s the scientists and medical professionals at NIH have been working together on everything from skin issues, cells in the brains, and nutrition to all types of cancer and genetic birth defects.

Warren’s bill is called the Medical Innovation Act and she refers to it as

a swear jar for the drug companies

You can read much more about the details of her bill here at her own website. It’s about time we stepped up to the powerful pharmaceutical industry and demanded that they began working for the citizens of the country they make money off of, rather than for the stockholders whose sole purpose is to get the newest model sports car or yacht. There was a time in our nation’s history where corporations were only allowed to operate under a charter where every 10 years they had to prove they were conducting business that was in the interest of the public good. It is a wonder how many corporations would fail such a charter today.

H/T: Mother Jones Featured Image Wikimedia Commons

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