Greed Strikes Again

         There are pills for everything; pain, depression, anxiety, you name it. Society has become obsessed with quick fixes to our daily problems despite the risk involved. The sad reality is, is that our country, “with less than 5% of the world’s population, uses 80% of the global supply of opioid drugs,” ( We might be wondering how in the world could this even be possible. However, as we learned throughout history, money can move mountains. This has been the recurring theme over the last couple of decades as big businesses including big pharma have gained the wealth and power necessary to influence our trusted government representatives.

          As a result, big business has been able use their money to stop regulatory legislation that would damper their profit but protect society. Without a certain degree of government restriction, Capitalism allows big business to do almost anything they wish. It can buy one’s liberty through the private prison industry and even one’s health through enormous pharmaceutical corporations. What appears the biggest issue at hand here is not only a classist gap between the 1% and the 99% of Americans, but the collateral damage caused in pursuit of money and power. In the most recent episode of big business vs society, it has come at the toll of thousands of lives taken by the recent opioid epidemic that has hit our country.  

         While there is a variety of factors that play into this growing issue of opioid abuse, one factor reins supreme. The true issue at play here is that Big pharmaceutical companies whether manufacturers or channels, value making a profit over helping society stay healthy. While the initial drive might have been to help patients cope with pain, the $95.1 billion dollars big pharma rakes in annually, is evident that profit has become priority ( The greed of big pharma has been displayed recently for society to witness themselves. The most obvious case was that of the pharmaceutical manufacturer Mylan who according to Dan Mangan of CNBC, “has increased the price of EpiPens more than 500 percent in recent years.” Such steep price hikes illustrate the savagery of big pharma corporations as their interest lies solely in maximizing profit rather than making life saving medication available to all who could benefit from it. Although this may seem isolated from the opioid epidemic the underlying issue is the same; greed at the expense of our society’s health..

           To make the situation even more complicated is the fact that those we entrust to protect us from these noxious entities are dancing with the devils themselves. The way in which big pharma is able to push large amounts of opioids down the throats of Americans and unfairly raise the money on medicine is a result of the lack of regulation on behalf of our government. According to, “From 1998 to 2014, Big Pharma spent nearly $2.9 billion on lobbying expenses — more than any other industry.” The millions of dollars on lobbying efforts each year demonstrate the desperation of big pharma to influence our government officials to “kill” legislation that would reduce their freedom to do harm and make money. In blockading the source of what could ruin their profit, they are able to essentially make more profit and build more influence over the government. What the solution ultimately comes down to is having our government being firm in standing their ground to the money and influence to big pharma and big business in general.  

            Although there are a few representatives that do in fact fight against big pharma, we need all representatives to unify to protect society opposed to receiving an immediate payoff. While we entrust our representatives to have our best interests at mind, the responsibility still falls on us. In a perfect world our government and economic system would work harmoniously to create a sustainable life for its citizens. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world and because of our imperfect world, we are the only ones who can advocate on behalf of ourselves.  It is our initial responsibility to vote for a representative and it is our responsibility to ensure they work in our best interests. We need to call our local representatives and put pressure on them to ensure they do not sell out to corporations who wreak havoc on society. While the 99% of people hold a fraction of the wealth that the other 1% holds, we have numbers on our side that ultimately have the true power to fight back if we are willing to unleash it.


6 thoughts on “Greed Strikes Again

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  1. It is downright ridiculous what Big Pharma can get away with. Part of the problem lies with the patent system, under which a pharmaceutical company that creates a certain drug has the right to that drug’s profits for a certain amount of time (usually 20 years). The company then obtains monopoly power and can overprice its product significantly, especially if the product is in high demand (such as EpiPen). This is a fundamental problem, because many people who need EpiPen simply cannot afford it. While this situation is unfair, it allows the producer to maximize profits, so there is no incentive to lower price. The only way to achieve a lower price is government regulation, as you suggest. I wholeheartedly agree with you that the solution lies with us, the citizens. We need to put more pressure on our representatives to support government regulation that would result in more affordable prices for drugs that many people need live a healthy life.


  2. The ruthless pursuit of profits by big businesses at the expense of the common people is a topic I have been interested in for quite some time and the recent opioid epidemic and its relation to big pharmaceutical companies is one of the best examples of this. A lot of news stories and commentaries I have seen on the epidemic shallowly place blame solely on those addicted to opioids for their predicament so its welcoming to see someone discuss the larger factors that cause such epidemics. I also agree that citizens must urge their representatives to standup to large industries like Big Pharma although as we’ve seen that’s easier said than done.


  3. As a pre-medical student who constantly learns about the uses and benefits of drugs, this article is very interesting to me. I agree with your point that, sadly, many corporations, including the large pharmaceutical companies who are supposed to do “good” in the world, are solely focused on profits. The very sad reality of the world is that most companies will do anything for a profit, whether it be oil companies who are readily willing to start wars over oil or ruin the environment for money, or medical companies or physicians, who are willing to increase prices for a profit, making it almost impossible for the lower income to access a well-rounded and quality health care. The difficulty of the matter is that as a business, there is always the discussion of money, and people are always willing to bend over backwards to make a profit. As a result, I unfortunately do not see changes in their actions any time soon. Additionally, your mention about these companies lobbying government politicians in order to ease restrictions on medications makes me think. In many ways, does our system of lobbying fail us? If officials place money and support from a business over the health of the people they are representing, should we even allow companies like these to partake in lobbying? I enjoy reading politics but am not extremely knowledgeable on the intricacies of politics, so potentially I need to read more on the topic of lobbying. However, I have never like the idea of corporations lobbying politicians to persuade their voting decisions for the very reasons you explained.


  4. I agree with you that capitalism is allowing these drug companies to do whatever they want and get away with it. America’s addiction to opioids is the deadliest drug crisis we’ve ever had and I think it is ridiculous that our attorney general Jeff Sessions wants to focus on cracking down on marijuana. Painkillers now kill more Americans than any illegal drug and the only reason that seems obvious as to why this has gone unrecognized for so long is because pharmacy industries make enormous profits off of these deadly opioids.


  5. “The sad reality is, is that our country, “with less than 5% of the world’s population, uses 80% of the global supply of opioid drugs.” WOW. Just wow. I’ve done quite a bit of research on this issue, and this is the first time I’ve come across that statistic. Big Pharma is now working to block legislation which would make medical marijuana legal at the federal level because it would cut into the profits they make from selling prescription pain killers. I honestly don’t understand how these people can sleep at night.


  6. I agree with you that the responsibility falls onto citizens to collectively demand change when, as we have seen, our elected representatives are not initiating the discussions we need to have with industries like Big Pharma. Many involved in the biopharmaceutical industry have expressed a number of very serious criticisms, many of which you have mentioned in this post. First and foremost, the industry hides negative data. Time and time again, the industry can and will buy the data that it needs to yield its ROI. Clinical studies paid for by pharma companies usually yield positive results. Furthermore, doctors paid by pharma companies are beholden to them and will skew data in the company’s favor. These views all contribute to the negative image of the industry. They convey that company-generated scientific data can’t be trusted as only favorable results are published. Clinical trial results can’t be trusted due to conflicts of interest on the part of the doctors carrying our these studies. The industry is rarely innovative, and companies focus on areas where drugs already exist. Critics commonly use these arguments as they promote damning views of an industry that is supposed to be doing important and valued drug R&D. However, the pendulum has swung dramatically in recent years, particularly with respect to reporting negative clinical trial results. But scientific journals deserve some credit as well. Publishing negative studies like this was not all that common in the past, as many publications only focused on breakthrough research. As can be seen in some recent publications, a lot can be learned from negative studies.


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