There were a few Donald Trump promises even a self-respecting Democratic Socialist of America would have wanted to see fulfilled. Actually, most Americans would have liked to have seen one Trump guarantee come through. If it had, sick people wouldn’t have to resort to buying, selling and even swapping pricey pharmaceutical drugs with other sick people via Facebook.
There was a time that the high cost of prescription drugs was a big Donald Trump talking point.
Pharmaceutical companies are out of control, candidate Trump would say on the campaign trail. Their lobbyists have too much power. Senators and congressmen are in their pocket.
But not Trump! Trump would “give consumers more options” by allowing Americans to import cheap generic drugs from other countries. Yes—a fair trade deal! Draining of the swamp! Trump to the rescue!
Magically, Trump stopped talking about pricey prescription drugs shortly after he was elected, as the LA Times observed late last year.
Around that time, he started giving the pharmaceutical lobby’s friends in Congress jobs in the administration. Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, once helped kill a deal to bring in cheaper drugs for Medicaid patients—and on the same day, was rewarded with $90,000 in stock in six pharmaceutical companies, as ProPublica reported.
Whoa! Bad! Corrupt. The swamp, the undrained swamp, it drowns us!
But hey, look—we’re all Americans here. So Bernie Sanders tried to help Donald Trump out.
In February, Sanders and a few other Democrats in Congress introduced a plan that would allow Americans to buy from their local pharmacies generic drug manufacturers in Canada—rather than be forced to buy name-brand drugs from pharmaceutical companies with exclusive trademarks, and ergo the ability to price-fix like millennial comic-book villain Martin Shkreli.
This is why Americans spend more than $310 billion a year on prescription drugs—drugs made by companies in which Tom Price, Donald Trump’s health secretary, has bought stock. This is also why many Americans, including relatives of Sen. Tim Kaine, who a lifetime ago was going to be Hillary Clinton’s vice president, already buy drugs from other countries via online pharmacies.
And wouldn’t you know—Senate Republicans killed Bernie Sanders’s plan dead, deader than someone with a newfound pre-existing condition, deader than a sick person who was one of the 24 million Americans slated to lose health insurance under Paul Ryan’s health-care plan.
The excuse Republicans on a Senate committee gave, as the plan died on a 13-10 party-line vote, was that drugs bought from Canada are not safe. Bad, foreign drugs! Safety from counterfeit drugs! And stock, also stock options.
“What this debate is about is the power of the pharma industry, which next to Wall Street, is the most powerful entity in the United States,” said Sanders, according to the Washington Examiner. “Pharma has endless supplies of money in order to get their way in the Congress.”
It bears mentioning that none of this would be happening—drugs would be cheaper, Price would be investing in Waffle Houses and Shkreli would be torrenting rare Wu-Tang cuts—if we had single-payer healthcare.