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Al-Jazeera: Prescribed pain by corporate America

Greed has become a foundational structure of the US economy - exemplified by the pharmaceutical industry. 

March 17, 2011- During the ultimate scene of betrayal in the movie Wall Street, a young stockbroker named Bud Fox learns that his idol, the golden-calf worshipping Gordon Gekko, has not only lied to him but left his father’s company exposed to the whims and hunger of the wolves of Wall Street. In a climactic moment, Fox asks Gekko, “how much is enough? How many yachts can you water ski behind?”

Even though this film was mid-1980s fare, one can once again repeat that old refrain, the more things change the more they stay the same. Perhaps not for the actor who played Bud Fox, Charlie Sheen, who should share Natalie Portman’s Oscar for real-time transformation into the Black Swan.

But for the rest of us, who have watched as greed has become the foundational structure upon which much of our modern economy is built, it is often difficult to see how we might close the Pandora’s Box and return to saner times. You know, back when being Donald Trump wasn’t considered an asset in a hair-club-for-men commercial, much less a race to be President of the United States.

There is nowhere this greed is more pervasive than among those companies responsible for the health of roughly 300 million of Americans - Big Pharma. You know, the guys who got a better sweetheart deal from George Bush’s Medicare prescription drug benefit than Ana Nicole Smith did from that old rich guy.

Later, re-importation from Canada and bulk negotiation for Medicare prescription drugs were written out of any Obama healthcare plan, even though each was at the heart of Democratic Party campaign promises in 2006 and 2008.

Maybe money can not buy you love - but the halls of Congress have a more Heidi-Fleiss-kind-of ethic to them.

Steve Lendman of, in providing a summary of David Sirota’s bestselling book, Hostile Takeover, clarifies:

This industry is one of the most profitable in the country making about 18 cents profit on every dollar of sales; it is aided by government using our tax dollars to fund about one third of all research on new drugs the industry gets at no charge; the industry spends about twice as much on advertising, promotion and administrative costs as they do on R & D to develop new drugs; the prices charged for prescription drugs in the US are inordinately high compared to the rest of the world and are rising at about four times the rate of inflation; these rising costs plus those for most all health services are rising so fast, companies are forcing their employees to pay a greater share of them or are reducing overall health care benefits.



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