Tue, Jul 30, 2019 - Page 7 News List

Bernie Sanders denounces ‘greed’ of US drug firms

AFP, MONTREAL

US Senator Bernie Sanders on Sunday accused US pharmaceutical companies of letting diabetic patients die out of “greed,” after he accompanied a group of Americans to Canada to buy insulin.

The US presidential candidate joined the group, which took a bus from Detroit to Windsor to restock on insulin, which costs 10 times more in the US than in its northern neighbor.

“How come the same exact medicine, in this case insulin, is sold here in Canada for one-tenth of the price it is sold in the United States?” Sanders said after visiting a Windsor pharmacy. “It is collusion, it is corruption and it is greed.”

Insulin is a hormone normally produced by the pancreas that regulates blood sugar levels in the body. Diabetics cannot produce sufficient levels of it themselves and are thus dependent on commercially manufactured supplements.

In the US one vial costs an average of US$340.

Sanders, who made affordable health care a main tenet of his 2016 and 2020 presidential platforms, also accused the pharmaceutical industry of spending billions lobbying the US Congress to keep drug prices exorbitantly high.

“They buy and sell politicians, Republicans and Democrats,” Sanders said. “In the last 20 years, they have spent billions of dollars on lobbying Congress to make sure that they can continue to charge the American people any price they want.”

Before the trip to Canada, Sanders also attacked the pharmaceutical industry in an interview with CNN.

“If I have a product that costs me a few dollars to make, and I jack up that price and you can’t afford it, and you die, what do you call me?” he asked.

He had posed the same question at a rally the night before, to which the crowd responded: “Murderer.”

“You can call the drug company executives whatever you want, but what they are doing involves corruption — in my view, that’s price fixing,” he said in the interview.

“The top 10 companies last year made US$69 billion in profits. The top three insulin companies made US$14 billion in profits, and people are rationing — one out of four people are rationing their insulin — and people are dying,” Sanders said.

“That is unacceptable in the United States,” he said, adding that he would establish antitrust measures against drug companies if elected president.

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