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Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine April 2004

The $50.00 Toll Bridge

The FDA has said that it does not plan to stop individuals from importing their medications for personal use, so the opportunity for offshore companies to counterfeit has never been greater. As we revealed several months ago, it is American pharmacies that are more likely to be targeted by sellers of counterfeit drugs, because the high profit margins in this country make the selling of bogus medications super-profitable. Unlike the situation with Canadian drugs, where there is no evidence to demonstrate a potential danger, serious side effects have occurred after Americans were exposed to adulterated drugs purchased in US pharmacies.12,13

Drug money has overwhelmed logic, decency, and the oaths that federal officials took when being sworn into office. This is a sad day for the American citizenry, as the government has performed a public disservice that flies in the face of all we know about the virtues of a free marketplace.

The Public Is Not Fooled

The FDA’s deception about the purported “dangers” of Canadian drugs gave elected officials an excuse for denying Americans access to them.

But the American public is not that gullible. On October 20, 2003, the results of a randomized survey of more than 1,000 people conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News found that 66% of Americans favor legalizing prescription drug imports.10
A much larger survey of more than 160,000 people produced the following result:11

Should Americans be allowed to import lower-priced prescription
drugs from Canada?

Yes

73%

No

27%

When the same question was placed on the Life Extension website, 97% favored allowing Americans to import lower-priced drugs from Canada. This is not surprising, considering Life Extension members’ contempt for the FDA.

The vast majority of Americans favor legalizing the importation of lower-priced drugs from Canada. That the import provision was intentionally left out of the Medicare bill is an utter disgrace to the democratic process.

Today’s Plight
The federal government has erected an artificial toll bridge that forces consumers to subsidize exorbitant drug prices. Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, predicted this when he stated:

“Unless we put medical freedom into the Constitution, the time will come when medicine will organize into an undercover dictatorship . . . to restrict the art of healing to one class of men and deny equal privileges to others . . . ”15

The pharmaceutical industry has become the “undercover dictatorship” that Dr. Rush said would manifest without a constitutional guarantee of medical freedom. Drug companies not only exert tremendous control over which medications are allowed on the market,16 but they also have succeeded in dictating where Americans may purchase these medications, thereby keeping out lower-priced competition.

Pharmaceutical companies say high prices are needed to pay for research. The facts are that many drugs are dangerous and only minimally effective.17 Sky-high prices have enabled drug companies to aggressively market their mediocre products to doctors and the public, while lavishing huge dollars to buy the political influence needed to stave off regulatory interference.

Drug company research consists of identifying patentable molecules that show some effect against a disease. After hundreds of millions of dollars are spent gaining FDA approval, the new drug is then massively promoted to create a cash cow for the duration of the patent. This proven formula for economic success has not resulted in cures being found for our most feared diseases, but it has consistently produced billions of dollars in profits for the pharmaceutical giants.

The new Medicare bill guarantees gargantuan tax dollars to the drug companies for their overpriced products, with limited consumer benefit. A free-market approach, on the other hand, would force the drug companies to develop better products because there would be no government guarantee that mediocre drugs would be paid for by tax dollars.

Defending the Consumer
The Life Extension Buyers Club is battling the drug industry behemoth because we believe that today’s FDA-protected monopoly discourages innovation. Those with novel disease treatments are censored by an overbearing FDA, which acts to protect the economic interests of the entrenched drug industry at the expense of the consumer and taxpayer.

Medical progress is hindered when the government guarantees outrageous profits to companies that fail to develop real breakthroughs, while making it too expensive for those with novel lifesaving therapies to compete in the marketplace.

Ordinary Americans pay the equivalent of a $50 bridge toll every time they buy a prescription drug. As a customer of the Life Extension Buyers Club, you help support a voice for the consumer in a political environment subjugated by vast amounts of drug money.

For longer life,
image

William Faloon

How Drug Companies Influence Politicians, the FDA, and the Public

On June 9, 2003, the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Human Rights and Wellness provided the following data to show how pharmaceutical companies are infiltrating multiple levels of government, the FDA, the media, and the public by spending millions of dollars on influence-peddling campaigns. The following data reveal some expenditures that were being considered by the pharmaceutical industry:14

  • $72.7 million for advocacy at the federal level, aimed mainly at Congress

  • $48.7 million for advocacy at the state level
  • $17.5 million to fight price controls and protect patent rights in foreign countries and in trade negotiations
  • $15.8 million to fight a union-driven get-out-the-vote initiative in Ohio that would lower drug prices for people who have no insurance to cover drug costs
  • $12.3 million to develop coalitions and strategic alliances with doctors, patients, universities, and influential members of minority groups
  • $9.5 million for public relations, including $1 million for inside-the-Beltway advertising
  • $4.9 million to lobby the FDA
  • $3.1 million to retain more than 60 lobbyists in the 50 states
  • Several million dollars to foster ties with groups like the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators, and the National Medical Association, which represents the interests of African-American doctors
  • $2 million or more in payments to research and policy organizations to build “intellectual capital” and generate a higher volume of messages from credible sources sympathetic to the industry
  • $1.3 million for local publicity
  • $1 million to “change the Canadian health care system”
  • $1 million for an “intellectual echo chamber” of economists to oppose, in written articles and testimony, federal price-control regulations
  • $500,000 for efforts to “educate and activate” Hispanic-Latino organizations on the state and federal levels
  • $550,000 for placement of op-ed pieces and articles by third parties.

Clearly, these formidable expenditures are designed to eliminate American consumers’ freedom of choice and block their access to lower-priced Canadian and European drugs, while increasing drug manufacturers’ profits.


What You Can Do

You can express your outrage over the new Medicare bill by writing or emailing your US representative and senators. Those who believe that prescription drugs sold in Canada and Europe are safe should demand that their members of Congress change the law to enable Americans to purchase lower-cost medications from these other jurisdictions.

To find out the name of your members of Congress and email them directly, log on to the following congressional websites: www.house.gov and www.senate.gov.

 

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