Drug companies are stealing from you

…with the help of the federal government and universities. Action Alert!

The high cost of prescription drugs has recently made headlines, evidenced by price-gouging schemes that cause drug prices to skyrocket 5,000% (as in the case with the infamous Martin Shkreli and the drug Daraprim) or Mylan’s more recent price hike on EpiPen’s to over $600 for a two-pack. What’s often left out of these stories, however, is how the federal government helped the pharmaceutical industry have this kind of power over drug pricing by allowing the industry to take advantage of publicly-funded research.

This stunning history is discussed at length in an article in The New Republic magazine, but here are the highlights: of the 210 medicines approved by the FDA between 2010 and 2016, every one originated in government labs, or university labs funded by the government. But it wasn’t always the case that the pharmaceutical industry could rake in billions of dollars in profit from publicly-funded research. For a long time, the US government retained the patents that sprung from government research.

This began to change in 1968, when the National Institutes of Health (NIH) revived the Institutional Patent Agreement program which allowed non-profits—mostly universities, in this case—to claim the licenses of medicines developed with government funds. Whereas before, inventors using NIH funds were required to assign patents back to the federal government, now they could be sold to the pharmaceutical industry. This trend was solidified in 1980 with the University and Small Business Patent Procedures Act, which allowed universities, non-profits, and small businesses to own, patent, and commercialize inventions developed with government research dollars.

Universities get government money to do research, patent any novel inventions that arise from that research, and sell the patents to the pharmaceutical industry. Consumers are forced to pay monopoly prices for drugs that their tax money helped develop.

Later in 1980, the Supreme Court decided that genes and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) could be patented, which sparked a gold rush in biotechnology. In the following years, more Pharma-friendly legislation was passed. The Orphan Drug Act, for example, provided incentives to the pharmaceutical industry to develop drugs for rare diseases; the Prescription Drug User Fee Act of 1992 put Big Pharma in charge of funding the FDA, the agency tasked with overseeing the industry; and the FDA Act of 1997 paved the way for direct-to-consumer drug advertising.

These policies have created the pharmaceutical industry as we know it today. We have a series of monopolies created and protected by the power of the federal government for drugs that can be dangerous and (often times) don’t work. Meanwhile, natural alternatives to these drugs are harassed and restricted by federal regulators, all in the name of protecting the bottom line of the drug companies.

And now, as we’ve been reporting for some months, we see pharmaceutical companies turning supplements into drugs, selling them at exorbitant prices, and removing the supplement versions. Our tax dollars fund their blockbuster drugs, and with those profits they are taking our supplements away. This cannot be allowed to stand.



What We Believe and What We Do

The Alliance for Natural Health USA (ANH-USA) is committed to sustainable health, the recognition that true health requires a proactive and preventive approach that focuses on a nutrient-rich diet, proper supplementation, and limiting our exposure to toxic substances. A system that is single-mindedly focused on “treating” sick people with expensive drugs, rather than maintaining healthy people, is neither practical nor economically sustainable.

ANH-USA is part of an international organization dedicated to promoting natural and sustainable health—and, in particular, consumer freedom of choice in healthcare—through good science and good law:

  • Since our founding in 1992, we have worked to shift the conventional medical paradigm from an exclusive focus on surgery, drugs, and other conventional techniques to an integrative approach incorporating functional foods, dietary supplements, and lifestyle changes. We believe this is the way to improve health and extend lives while reducing the costs of healthcare back to a sustainable level.
  • Sustainable health also applies the environmental ethic of conservation to our bodies. It urges us to live as nature intended us to live. Diet, nutritional supplements, exercise, and the avoidance of toxins are especially important tools in building and maintaining health.
  • Sustainable health is also about financial sustainability. Ever higher healthcare costs lead directly to higher unemployment and lower standards of living, both of which lead to more illness.
  • Today, preventive medicine is too often defined as taking more and more drugs at an earlier and earlier age, even in childhood. The concept of sustainable health is real preventive medicine and will dramatically reduce healthcare costs.

To this end, ANH-USA actively engages in legal initiatives, standing against forces that would limit your access to safe and effective dietary supplements, complementary therapies, and integrative medicines. We lobby Congress and state legislatures, act as a government watchdog, file comments on proposed rulemakings, and educate the public, the media, and other decision-makers.

Our most important tools:

  • A strong grassroots member base that is ready to act on a minute’s notice. ANH-USA is fortunate to have a dynamic, fast growing member base that collectively presents a unified front and demands their collective voice be heard. Thank you, members!
  • Effective lobbying. ANH-USA monitors legislation and regulatory activity on the state, federal, and international levels daily. Staying apprised of the domestic and global pulse on integrative medicine assists greatly in developing policy to advance integrative medicine.
  • Litigation. The court system has a role in protecting integrative medicine and a consumers’ right to choose. When it is required, ANH intervenes, through legal action, to protect the rights of the public.
  • Strategic coalitions. Collaboration is the most effective means to further a cause. ANH-USA has been highly effective in building long-term relationships with outside groups, members on the Hill, medical societies, and consumers from all walks of life.
  • Timely education campaigns. The timely launch of public educational campaigns is key to increasing support and recognition of key issues while furthering our overall cause.

Working closely with the media. Media can be a friend or a foe and whichever it may be, media is imperative to quickly disseminate a message. ANH-USA works collaboratively with the media to increase coverage of important natural health-related issues.

(Source: naturalblaze.com; October 9, 2018; https://tinyurl.com/ybuow78b)
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