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,” (allgov.com). 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 (drugchannels.net). 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 drugwatch.com, “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.