The pharma industry’s reputation continues to slip from a pandemic halo-high of 62% in February 2021 to now when fewer than half, just 47%, of people have a favorable view of the industry, according to the Harris Poll’s latest survey. (Source: Endpoints News) Does anyone believe that pharma cares?
Like it or not, the media has had pharma in their crosshair for a long time. When the CEO of J&J is awarded a compensation package over $20 million, pharma is once again saying, “above all, we’re a business.
Besides the increased costs of prescription drugs above inflation levels, drug companies are playing a shell game with the opioid settlements. On Thursday, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform sent a letter asking the Justice and Treasury departments to examine Johnson & Johnson, McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen’s planned deductions. The four firms seek tax breaks that would help offset the cost of a $26 billion legal settlement finalized last month to bring funds to communities hurt by the opioid epidemic.
First, what they’re doing is perfectly legal, but that doesn’t make it morally right. They are doing what’s best for shareholders because, above all, the corporation comes first.
“The committee’s investigation shows that four companies that contributed to an opioid crisis that has killed half a million Americans and continues to claim tens of thousands of lives every year may now be attempting to put taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars in settlement costs,” the members said in the letter. “This would be an outrageous tax benefit to line the pockets of bad corporate actors.”
House members questioned the legality of the deductions. Damages paid to government entities resulting from a government investigation into a potential violation of the law are generally not eligible for the deduction, the lawmakers said, citing the U.S. tax code. The lawsuits brought by thousands of states, localities, and tribes alleged that drugmakers engaged in false and misleading marketing about the dangers of their products and that drug distributors failed to report the misuse of their products to authorities.
Analysts expect that “big biopharma” companies will collectively have more than $500 billion in cash to deploy by 2022. Taking typical patterns of share buybacks and dividend investments into account, the bank estimates they will have around $400 billion available, potentially to deploy toward acquisitions and CEO bonuses.
So what to think about all this? If you’re working in the industry, you have to try to be the change that it needs. Yes, pharma is big business, but if a corporation is the people who work there, how can so many stay silent while people pay outrageous prices for insulin and other drugs?