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Capital Punishment

I didn’t get my degree in economics. Everything I know about the subject is like a fabric made of motley stitchings. I do what I can to know what I’m talking about. It’s complex. It involves math and countless variables. In America, we hate numbers like crushed tomatoes. There are people who pen hasty polemics that don’t show that the author understands the difference between the national debt and the deficit. And even when they do distinguish these large numbers, they don’t understand why we can sustain that debt and why it is important to global finance that it doesn’t get paid back too quickly, if it does so at all. It makes no sense on its face, but our debt makes the world hum-we are A Safe Bet. And we still finance at ass-kicking low rates.

Sustainable? I’m gonna pull a Donald Trump and say: look at the world. You see what’s going on. America is still great for the profit class-surprisingly stable- and that is a fucking ineluctable fact. Oh, sure, someday soon the house of cards we call capitalism will eventually collapse when labor can’t afford to buy its own products(we’re already halfway there) but for now, we are still an economic powerhouse that attracts investment. We will be part of tomorrow one way or another and the world knows it. And that truth transcends the numbers and the graphs. America has its thumb on the global economic scale, so worry not about the big scary zeroes, friends.

That’s all a circuitous way of coming around to talking about the goddamn Epipen. Does its saga make any sense?  When a private company makes a vital product, can it be relied upon to provide it in a responsible fashion? This is a question we should be asking when a company like Mylan risks the health of thousands to make millions.

You’ve all seen the story, no need to recap. It’s pretty obvious by now that Mylan got caught being super greedy. Everyone in the upper echelons gets paid when they retag the price of the auto-injector, their flagship product since 2007. This last time around though, they took such a big bite that everyone noticed. Now the company is under political fire for their gouging.

I understand and accept that every company has to include in its price several things, including profit. And I understand grudgingly that this profit must increase. Such is the nature of a growth-oriented economy. But damn, when you’ve got a consumer base that isn’t going anywhere, that is to say, a group that can get sick and die without your shit, hold your horses before you rob them. Slowly, slowly screw them over so they don’t notice or don’t mind.

Mylan has a lot of chutzpah. Their product’s component parts are valued at approximately twenty dollars. The delivery system is not their own invention-that would be some guy at NASA. Now they are tweaking the design of the original auto-injector so they can patent it. They pulled off an incredible marketing coup by tying federal grants to placement of the pen at schools. The FDA has shielded them from competition, swatting down several possible rivals. All while enjoying  inversion. So they are having a GOOD run. All the planets are aligned for continuing good fortune for Mylan Pharmaceuticals.

By the bloodless rules of supply and demand, Mylan can do whatever it wants as long as the market can hack it. And they have. Which brings us back to the question-should lifesaving medicine be exposed to market forces? After all, in other areas of the economy there are metrics in place for when regulators must step in, when trusts need busting, and when prices need some controllin’. Know what I say? If drug companies cannot mind their manners in the free martketplace, then they get an offer they can’t refuse. Buy them out. Take a controlling interest in the company. Am I suggesting a little socialism? Sure. A little red-line of sorts. Wouldn’t be the first thing we planned out. Some parts of it are too important to be left to the caprice of shareholder desires. Besides, they get most of their R&D budget from the government to start with. It’s at least in bad taste to be screwing over the taxpayer if you are in pharmacueticals.

My pinko dream may never need to come. Public outcry may be enough to shame the companies and our politicians into acting. I guess that’s the reason for the sudden decision by Mylan to produce a generic for its own product. Which, to this untrained mind, makes no sense at all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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