(Image from New York Times)
This seems to be the recurring favorite mantra of healthcare: “It’s not our fault.”
So sums up the testimony of seven Big Pharma executives on February 26th, 2019 to the Senate Finance committee, passing the blame of skyrocketing prescription drug costs on pharmacy benefit managers, the middlemen in drug sales. Long overdue, it is the start of what I hope becomes a long-term effort to beat back the unholy pricing practices of Big Pharma, as well as the broad landscape of other corrupt practices that define modern healthcare. The executive panel endured tough questioning from Senators from both parties.
Democratic Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon summed it up well: “Drug prices are astronomically high because that’s where pharmaceutical companies and their investors want them. The brakes have come off pharmaceutical pricing and American families are hurtling along in the passenger seat terrified of what comes next.” Or, as Republican Senator Bill Cassidy declared, “It is almost as if the taxpayer has ‘stupid’ written on their face.”
There were no real answers to questions such as why Americans pay far higher prices than are paid by populations elsewhere in the world. In addition to the Creed of Greed that I discuss in my Undoctored book, i.e., the culture of predatory and exploitative practices that have come to define modern healthcare, it is now customary and expected that nobody in healthcare accepts blame. It’s not just $20 million per year salaried Pharma executives; it’s virtually everyone in healthcare: “It’s not my fault; it’s somebody else’s fault.” To wit:
- Doctors blunder in their roles and provide inadequate services because health insurers put extreme time pressures on them
- Doctors know nothing about nutrition because it wasn’t part of their education or training
- Hospitals charge astronomical prices because they also have to cover the costs of providing care to the uninsured
- Medical devices cost ungodly sums (e.g., $2000 for a coronary stent) because development costs are high due to FDA requirements
- The opioid epidemic is not due to aggressive marketing practices of opioid manufacturers but to irresponsible doctors
The unethical practices of Big Pharma are only now—after decades of abuse—now being exposed to the light of day. Thankfully, despite receiving a multi-billion dollar windfall from Big Pharma TV ads, the major television networks are broadcasting this news despite their longstanding policy of not reporting anything potentially damaging to their drug advertisers who now spend $6 billion a year for TV ads, money that is ultimately paid by the consumer. The problem has grown so big that failing to report this news would be unconscionable.
I don’t have a solution to this $3 trillion disaster called American healthcare except to help you craft a means of avoiding or minimizing your exposure to it. As I often say, make yourself useless to the healthcare system and be healthy. Have as little to do with your doctor as possible, do not accept the useless advice of people in healthcare, and instead pursue health on your own and achieve results that are dramatically SUPERIOR to the results you obtain in healthcare. That is the Undoctored mission.