WE WILL: control the cost of lifesaving pharmaceuticals.

Americans are being drugged to death in astonishing numbers and big pharma – a conglomeration of large, private pharmaceutical companies – is celebrating making a killing.  For far too long, the US Government has been sponsoring innovations in medicine.  This sponsorship comes in the form of national health agencies, funding of public universities, and research grants.  Yet the payouts for these investments are largely going to big pharma.  Operation Warp Speed, the Trump Administration’s response to combating the COVID-19 crisis, is a prime example of the routine giveaways some of the world’s most profitable companies enjoy on a regular basis.                

Operation Warp Speed was incorporated into the strategy to combat the COVID crisis.  The goal was to accelerate the development, manufacturing and distribution of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics (collectively known as countermeasures). The United States government acting through the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority has engaged with private firms such as AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.  This public health initiative came at a great financial cost to the taxpayers in the United States.  Congress has directed nearly $10 billion to Operation Warp Speed through supplemental funds included in the CARES Act.  The US government also engaged with a number of other private companies to coordinate the supply, production and distribution of medicines and made payment out of the public’s purse.  In chronological order the following is a list of some of the government’s activity:  

On May 12, 2020, a $138 million contract with ApiJect for prefilled syringes was announced. 

On June 1, 2020, a task order with Emergent BioSolutions to advance domestic manufacturing capabilities and capacity for a potential vaccine as well as therapeutics worth approximately $628 million was assessed. 

On June 11, 2020, $204 million in funds was announced to expand the domestic manufacturing capacity of Valor Glass vials by Corning.  The same day it was announced that $143 million would go to SiO2 Materials Science to ramp up their capacity to produce the company’s glass-coated plastic container.

On August 4, 2020, Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing Inc. was awarded a $160 million contract.  

On August 14, 2020, the government announced they would be executing an existing contract option with McKesson Corporation to support the distribution of future COVID- 19 vaccines.   

On September 16, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services along with the Department of Defense released two Administration documents outlining the strategy to deliver doses as quickly and reliably as possible.  

Given there is a market for private sales of pharmaceuticals, big pharma will continue to speculate and develop private companies to generate a profit for their shareholders.  Suggesting that big pharma would collapse without support from the US government is a fallacy.  Given that America already ranks inappropriately low in most major mobility and mortality rankings worldwide and is believed to have lost more life due to the COVID pandemic than any other nation, suggests America’s system of commercial medicine is broken.  The system that once assumed individual recipients of prescription drugs would engage in a transaction that incidentally involves some small transfer of money in exchange for their own good health has become a system of vast wealth transfer from the taxpayers of America to big pharma blinded by the promise of a pill.