Congress, being continually divided in goals, is trying to pass major legislation that will affect everyone. The reconciliation bill currently being discussed is either a gross overreach that will bankrupt the country or barely enough spending to save the country, depending on one’s point of view.

One portion of the bill deals with drug-pricing reforms through a Medicare prescription-pricing proposal. Prescription prices are much lower in other countries because those countries negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies. The U.S. does not.

Conservative politicians and major pharmaceutical companies maintain that drug prices are high because of the need to pay for research and development.

At a recent congressional hearing, Congresswoman Katie Porter, D-California, questions the CEO of AbbVie Pharmaceuticals about the company’s budget. CEO Richard Gonzalez didn’t have all the current budget figures, but Rep. Porter did. This is what his company spends a year, according to Porter: $1.6 billion on legal settlements, $2.5 billion for research and development, $4.71 billion for advertising and marketing, $50 billion for stock buybacks, and $60 million for executive compensation.

This company, typical of Big Pharma, makes a huge profit and spends much of it on buybacks to increase profits. Consumers are paying the bill.

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According to the Economic Policy Institute in 2020, executive compensation alone at pharmaceutical companies has risen 1,322% since 1978, and CEOs make 351 times what the average worker is paid. The Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index shows a cumulative price increase of some 285% for the same period.

We are all paying for corporate greed. Shouldn’t enough be enough for everyone?

Gregory Opstad


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