If you are a serious Catholic, or indeed anyone who believes in religious freedom and a pluralistic society, “Big Pharma” is not on your side. It is not too much to say that it is the enemy of much that you hold dear, because these corporations can make a great deal of money when the government over-rides your beliefs, as the Obama administration has done in insisting that Catholic institutions provide morally-objectionable health insurance. Writing in The Daily Beast on Big Pharma’s Role in the Contraception Debate , the Hoover Institution’s Peter Schweizer points out that the mandate
This mandate is not really about condoms or generic versions of the pill, which are available free or cheap in lots of places. This is about brand-name birth control drugs and other devices that some consumers swear off because they are too expensive. The Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requires health-insurance companies provide contraceptive coverage for all FDA approved contraceptive methods. It does not insist on generics. And it does not offer any cost containment.
Whats more, the mandate prevents health-insurance companies from having copays or deductibles for the benefit. This is the perfect set up for Big Pharma. Since the drugs will be paid for by a third party (insurance companies, who will pass the cost on to employers and the rest of us), the consumer wont worry about the price. Expensive brand names will no doubt see demand rise. Ask more health-care analysts why the cost of medical services continues to rise so rapidly and near the top of the list is the fact that a third-party payment system wont contain costs.
The drug industry, he points out, quoting Tim Carney of The Washington Examiner , has spent $635 million lobbying since the Obama administration began, which is more than Wall Street and the oil and gas industries combined spent on lobbying. And which is a lot more money than conscience has to offer. In his article, Carney notes that “Once again, Obama, who pretends to be battling the special interests, is rewarding powerful lobbies that support him,” and that Kathleen Sebelius has benefitted much from the industry’s largesse to its friends. Schweizer notes that Rick Perry was financially entangled with Merck, the maker of Gardisil, when in 2007 he signed an executive order requiring teenage girls be vaccinated with it, at $360 a girl. Perry has since tried to explain his action in other ways, but I’m not inclined to believe him.
As Schweizer concludes, “welcome to the world of crony contraceptives, which means good times for both the bedroom and the corporate boardroom.” Big Pharma is not your friend. The boards of these corporations will sell you, and basic American principles, down the river for a slight uptick in their profits. It’s just business. A business that involves using the government to rig the system and constrict the free market, and stomp on people’s rights to live according to their principles, of course, but still, it’s just business to them.
Conservatives angry at the Obama administration for its action need to recognize that it does not act alone, and that this is not purely a social or cultural issue, and not solely a conflict of differing visions of sexuality and religious freedom. There are powerful interests driving this subversion of democracy, and their belief that coercion best serves their interests, and their funding of that coercion, will be even harder to change than the minds of the lifestyle left. No, definitely not your friends.
Note: I should credit my friend Mark Barrett for pointing me to Schweizer’s article.