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What do you think of the term "Big Pharma?"

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Does the US pharmaceutical industry exist within the confines of a free market? Or even mostly free? Or even slightly free? If not, then how is it straightforwardly anti-capitalist?

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It is similar to the term "big oil." Using the term may imply that the industry is dominated by a few companies with monopolistic powers.

I'm sure that it has been discussed elsewhere how government interferes on many different levels with a free market for medicine. We are so far from a system where an inventor discovers a medicine with health benefits, offers the medicine in the market, consumers purchase depending on their need and ability to pay. If the medicine is successful, competitors enter the market with similar products hoping to gain market share. Prices eventually stabilize as the industry matures. 

I think that using terms like "big pharma" creates an excuse to ask big government to intervene and regulate big bad drug companies with price controls because the little people need a savior.

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There's a story going around right now, about a pharmaceutical company purchasing the right to sell a drug called Daraprim in the US, and raising the price over 100 times, from $13/pill to $750 a pill.

Of course, the media is blaming capitalism for it. But, if you read up a little on why he is able to do this, turns out this is a drug that's been around for 60+ years (so it's not patented), it's very easy and cheap to make, and there are in fact very, very cheap generic versions being sold around the world (two cents a pill, in some places).

However, it is so expensive and time consuming to get FDA approval for drugs in the US, that no one else ever did...leaving one company with a monopoly on it. When an opportunistic Wall Street shark bought that monopoly, he was able to name his price...knowing the government (through Medicare) and insurance companies can afford to, and would have no choice but to, pay it.

So he's selling a drug at 40,000 times the price it would cost on the free market. I'd say that's pretty god damn far from capitalism. The pharmaceutical industry, and healthcare in general, is far, far closer to a centrally planned, fascist system than to a capitalist one. The cause, of course, isn't Wall Street greed, it's a giant, stupid and inevitably corrupt government bureaucracy, but the fact remains, it's not capitalism.

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Yeah, this guy is really a failure as an example of capitalism. It seems since before people started talking about that price increase, this guy was already being investigated for fraud with past companies he was in charge of, basically using one company to pay off what was owed to the last company repeatedly, like getting new credit cards to pay off old credit cards and then another one to pay off that one. If these charges are true, he's not only trying to use bad laws to make money, he's got a history of fraud and failure to actually successfully run a business to boot.

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Forty-plus years ago, at the time of the Equity Funding scam and the Lockheed bailout, Reason observed that the biggest scams and the biggest business failures happen in the most regulated industries. Shkreli came up in investment banking and moved into pharmaceuticals - a perfect case in point.

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