Criticism of pharmaceutical companies is intensifying as prices continue to dramatically escalate and now Pfizer has purchased an Irish drug company and will declare Ireland its home to lower its American taxes. A coalition of health advocates is planning a protest on Friday outside Pfizer’s headquarters at 42nd Street and 2nd Avenue in New York City, saying Pfizer has renounced its American citizenship in order to dodge taxes. Drug companies are benefitting from the fact that the United States health care system does not negotiate prices like in other countries which have a national health care program. While the Veterans Administration negotiates prices, the Medicare drug law of 2003 specifically forbids the program from negotiating prices. The idea was that the private insurers in Medicare would do that but they don’t get the same lower rates like the VA.
Drug companies have always resisted the importation of cheaper drugs from other countries into the United States but here is an American company Pfizer choosing to declare its home base is in Ireland to lower its taxes. If they want to do what is best for the company’s bottom line by insisting on their right to locate in another country, they should give up their opposition to drug importation that allows some patients to do what is best for their bottom line.
This is another example of how the laws are stacked against the consumer and in favor of corporate profits. Of course, Pfizer says it will use its tax savings to do more research and development that will lead to new drugs. Maybe so, but the way all the drug companies are now pricing drugs has no relationship to the costs of research and development. It is all about what they can get away with. Doctors and insurers are fighting back and now the government must clamp down. And, I should note that Pfizer is definitely not one of the worst drug companies typified by those such as Turing which bought companies producing older drugs and then jacked the price up by hundreds or thousands of dollars per year.