Here is a story I bet you haven’t heard about: recently a conspiracy has been uncovered, one that impacts peoples basic healthcare, and one that highlights, with obscene clarity, the irredeemable incentive system embedded inside capitalism.
Forty-five states and the Department of Justice are suing generic drug maker companies for colluding with one another to rig the bidding process whereby pharmacies decide which company to purchase generic drugs from. The lawsuit alleges that “the companies would work out in advance who would get the lowest price and then the other competitors would put in what they call a cover bid”. These so-called “cover bids” are a way to give the illusion of competitive bidding while, behind the scenes, the companies work out a deal on setting prices, dividing up customers, and staging the bids such that they appear to be making these transactions in a transparent and open marketplace.
The result of this devious and criminal scheming among powerful companies is that average people see a significant increase in their health insurance premiums and their copays, and what little social safety nets we have for the poor and the elderly, Medicare and Medicaid, were forced to overspend dramatically on the drugs. These programs, of course, are tax payer funded, meaning even if you haven’t spent money on premiums or copays in the last 5 to 10 years (which is highly unlikely), your tax dollars still went to line the pockets of criminal corporations.
So far, two executives from Heritage Pharmaceuticals have pleaded guilty to antitrust crimes and are revealing information to prosecutors. Among the revelations unveiled thus far, is the fact that the two executives helped rig prices on a common antibiotic which shot the price of that antibiotic up 8,000 percent. Yes, 8 THOUSAND percent. Imagine a single parent who has a sick child who can barely afford rent and groceries having to pay 8 thousand percent more money for a necessary medication while being clueless to the fact that they are being literally robbed to enrich some of the richest, greediest fucking scumbags on the planet.
But antibiotic medicine is just the tip of the iceberg; the information coming out from the investigation implicates countless other drugs whose prices were also artificially inflated, ranging from diabetes medicine to heart medicine to antidepressants to anti-fungal medication. The full spectrum of these crimes is still being uncovered, but the investigation is also pointing to drug distribution companies, of which there are only three or four large ones, as well; meaning this criminal scheme almost certainly extends well beyond generic drug makers to implicate the entire supply and distribution chain.
But here is the kicker that I want all of you to understand: even if all of this is uncovered, and these companies are found guilty of this horrendous crime, none of them will go to jail. The companies in question will merely have to pay a settlement to the groups and people effected. Now, for those groups and individuals, that’s a nice monetary win, but with companies that make such extreme profits, these settlement pay-outs won’t sink them. They will be right back in their cushy office chairs finding new ways to rob people in no time.
These are the real criminals of our society. These are the people who ruin lives for profit. These are powerful institutions with war-chests of profits who can afford to take these risks because when the house of cards inevitably collapses, and they are found guilty, they never have to worry about being locked in a cage. No, that sort of barbaric punishment is reserved for poor and working people who sell drugs on the street to make ends meet, not the gigantic corporations who sell drugs on the market to make profit.
There are two America’s, and two Justice Systems: one for the rich and powerful, and one for the rest of us.
Beyond that, it’s also an absolute shattering of the absurd capitalist apologia which wants to assert that competition drives down prices and that the free market is the best way to organize and distribute goods and necessities. The last thing these corporations want is competition, and when you get a handful of them together, not unlike getting a handful of Mafia bosses together, they will collude and scheme and divvy up the market amongst themselves to their mutual benefit. These corporations, driven entirely by the incessant thirst for profits at all costs, realize it makes much more sense for all of them to come together and rig the bidding process so that prices across the board go up then it does for them to compete to drive prices down. So I’m sorry, all you little capitalist sycophantic fucks, but just because capitalism looks good on paper doesn’t mean it works in practice…
And finally, it’s worth saying this again and again: get these fucking corporate vampires the fuck out of our healthcare system. Healthcare is a human right, it is not a commodity. People should have access to treatment and medicine regardless of how much money they make, and no one should be able to profit off of human suffering. Socialized healthcare and socialized medicine is the only way to truly stop this criminal bullshit once and for all. And I dream fondly of a day when these corporate executives are stripped of every last penny they have, robbed of their companies and everything they’ve built on the broken down backs of poor and working people, and subjected to the real revolutionary justice they fucking deserve.