Wednesday, December 20, 2017 by Jayson Veley
Truth be told, the best type of conservative is one who is capable of not only sticking to his or her principles, but also able to articulate those principles in a bold and fearless manner. And when it comes to shrinking the size of government and standing up to Big Pharma, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul reminds us time and time again that he most certainly fits that description.
“Big Pharma manipulates the system to keep prices high. It is not capitalism, and it’s big government, and we’ve got to fix it,” said a passionate Rand Paul during last week’s hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. The Kentucky Senator went on to urge President Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services nominee, Alex Azar, to keep Trump’s campaign promise of allowing the safe importation of prescription drugs and medications from counties overseas as a means of lowering the cost for consumers. “You need to convince those of us who are skeptical that you’ll be part of fixing it and won’t be beholden to Big Pharma,” he said.
Being the principled man that he is, Rand Paul even said that he would not be voting to confirm Azar unless he proved his commitment to taking on Big Pharma and sett forth a plan detailing how exactly he would uphold the President’s campaign promise.
“If you’re open to it, and not just say it’s unsafe, will say, ‘This is how I would do it, and this is how I would reimport drugs and make it safe,’ that’s an honest reform. If you can’t do that, I can’t support you,” Paul said during the hearing. “So I hope you will come back with an answer that says, ‘This is how I would make reimportation safe.’” (Related: All of the Health Ranger’s warnings about Big Pharma are now coming true thanks to the opioid epidemic.)
What Rand Paul really did during the hearing last week is remind conservatives in Congress and throughout the country that at its core, the Republican Party stands for and needs to be an advocate of free market capitalism. Big Pharma intentionally tries to keep prices high and separate the people from more and more of their money by manipulating the system, and in order to drive up competition (which is essentially the fuel that America’s capitalist economic system runs on), that sort of manipulation has to be discouraged and done away with.
Thankfully, President Trump has been an outspoken critic of Big Pharma as well. Before he was even sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, President-elect Trump stated at a press conference that “our drug industry has been disastrous,” and that even though the United States is the largest buyer of drugs in the world, we constantly fall short when it comes to bidding. By introducing some reforms to the drug industry, Trump said at the time that our country will save billions of dollars in the long run.
During a subsequent interview with The Washington Post, Trump doubled down on his position and stated that Big Pharma will no longer be politically protected as they have been for years prior to his administration.
Of course, not everyone in the Republican Party supports the positions of people like Rand Paul and President Trump when it comes to the pharmaceutical companies. True to form, House Speaker Paul Ryan came out publicly in the weeks following Trump’s criticism of Big Pharma to announce that we need to have “more conversations” about this issue, and even implied that Trump’s language was too extreme.
Dealing with Big Pharma is going to be a daunting task in and of itself, but it appears that step one is dealing with the members of the Republican Party that cave to it.