Bernie Sanders Slams Pharmaceutical Companies For Spending The Bulk Of Their Money On Me-Too Drugs

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks on stage during a forum on gun safety at the Iowa Events Center on August 10, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa.
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Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders recently appeared on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast ⁠— available on YouTube ⁠— and discussed his platform, which includes Medicare-for-all, forgiving student loan debt, and free college, university, and trade school.

Sanders also took aim at the pharmaceutical industry and the method its companies use to generate profit. He agreed that the industry provides benefit thanks to its “great researchers,” but says the industry as a whole focuses the majority of its money not on research and development, as they companies suggest, but instead on me-too drugs. These drugs are structurally similar and contain the same active ingredient.

“If you check how they even spend their money, they will tell you they spend all of their money on research and development,” he said. “We’re tackling cancer, we’re tackling diabetes, Alzheimer’s. The truth is of course they are.”

“But the bulk of their money is going often to what we call me-too drugs. They make modest changes in a drug, which doesn’t really improve people’s well-being, in order to make profits.”

Sanders also claims that Americans’ tax dollars often pays for research and development without benefiting from lower drug prices. He says he believes that the solution lies in harnessing the power of the working class people — highlighting the growth of the labor movement and the civil rights movement, and the women’s movement — standing up to large corporations by electing him to create a drug pricing system more akin to Canada’s. This system would not allow drug companies to sell drugs at any cost they want.

“The message of our campaign is ‘us,’ not ‘me,'” he said, adding that the goals he’s campaigning on can only be implemented with the help of millions of Americans.

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Per The Inquisitr, fellow Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson has taken a strong stance against the pharmaceutical industry, although the self-help guru has primarily focused on criticizing the overprescription of drugs. Although Williamson has received criticism for some of her comments on antidepressants and their use for treating depression, some — including Aaron E. Carroll, who wrote an article on antidepressants for The New York Times — suggest that there are many unanswered questions about the medications and the motivation of the drug companies behind them.

“It’s unclear if drug companies would be interested in the results, or indeed why they would be,” he said, adding that no regulatory agency is asking for more data on the unanswered question linked to antidepressants — despite their widespread use.

“If patients want answers, they will need to demand the research themselves,” he said, echoing Sanders belief in the importance of standing up to large and power structures with a great deal of wealth and control.