Big Pharma focuses relentlessly on always making a buck, no matter the cost to the rest of us, and even a viral pandemic that infects 2.8 million Americans and kills roughly 130,000 of us won’t interrupt the corporate rapaciousness.
That’s the reality that federal prosecutors have reminded the public about with an announced $678 million settlement with Novartis over the drug maker’s doctor prescribing- and kickbacks-scheme. And it is what Gilead has shown with its planned pricing for remdesivir. It is an anti-viral drug that has shown modest effect in shortening the course of Covid-19 infections and was developed with taxpayer funding.
The Novartis case also paints a damning picture of doctors’ complicity in taking bribes to defraud taxpayers (specifically the Medicare, Medicaid, and Veterans Affairs programs) by pushing company products, including the high blood pressure drugs Lotrel, Diovan, Exforge, Tekturna, Valturna and Tekamlo, and the Type 2 diabetes medication Starlix.