By Robert Weiner and Wesam Farah
The pharma-lobby spent over $460 million in DC last year--so as coronavirus fears spike, drug companies prepare to line their pockets, as they regularly do.
With the climbing death toll and incidence of COVID-19, it may appear tempting to throw money into the hands of all-too-eager pharmaceutical executives, whilst hoping the virus dissipates at the sight of the almighty taxpayer dollar.
It's the Coronavirus Big Pharma Money Scam.
Before we line Big Pharma's coffers once again, let's at least make sure most of that money finds its way back to the people footing the bill.
The problem taxpayers face with every disease scare, e.g bird flu, SARS, swine flu, ebola, is a familiar cycle. First, we allow speculation-based terror to strangle the public discourse; as a result, gargantuan sums of cash get funneled into pharmaceutical conglomerates on the taxpayer dime--which then results in vaccines sold at a massive profit to a population that reaps minimal return.
This is not to suggest that the coronavirus is benign and/or harmless. Not at all.
However, the pharmaceutical industry has a vested interest in profiting off government funds that results when fear overcomes reason and the voices of scientists are drowned out by pharma reps. When experts are ignored in lieu of pharma-lobby induced terror, we risk an egregious waste of taxpayer dollars.
While we chew our nails over the 100 U.S deaths so far, it should be stressed that 20,000 Americans have died from the flu alone this season. Last year over 34,000 Americans died from influenza, and that is only half as much as the year before.
For comparison, for H1N1, we poured $8 billion into that scare. To no one's surprise, the pharma industry walked away with a healthy payday.
Congress is currently pouring billions into a vaccine effective over a year from now for a disease that is barely affecting America, and will unlikely be made affordable to the general public in time. Simultaneously the flu vaccine, which almost every American is recommended to take, is still running on 70-year-old technology which health officials have stressed is due for a major update.
But as it happens, virus scares are quite profitable. The flu shot, not so much. The growing vaccine market is thought to be valued at upwards of $20 billion.
Thus, Big Pharma's i nfluence over Capitol Hill tightens as it sinks its tendrils into various administrative departments responsible for amounts of funding to be allocated, where, and how much of said vaccine will be stockpiled.
For instance, Donald Trump's first response was a meeting with pharmaceutical representatives to discuss a potential COVID-19 vaccine. Only a week later did he announce his intention to visit the CDC. Why?
Trump's foremost consultation should be with a team of qualified scientists and advisors, not pharma reps. Pharma reps are not concerned with the health or betterment of America; their dedication lies in bolstering their bottom line.
Trump is meeting with these pharma reps because they know that they can squeeze a healthy-sized grant out of him and the rest of Congress.