Pfizer left with a hard pill to swallow


By Steve Hansen

Former QCS Managing Editor

U.S. drug giant Pfizer won’t be adopting a brogue or wearing kilts anytime soon.

Its proposed merger with Irish drug maker Allergan, part of which would have moved Pfizer to the Emerald Isle, fizzled after the U.S. put the kibosh (an Irish word, by the way) on “tax inversions (dodges).”

Tax inversion used to let U.S. corporations become foreign corporations in order to avoid U.S. income taxes.

Moving company headquarters to Ireland, of course, was how Pfizer intended to show its gratitude to the nation that prohibited Medicare from exercising market power to lower drug prices and forbade its citizens from using drug benefits in Canada, where drug prices are mysteriously lower.

Pfizer is crying foul, but my tears for Pfizer are about the size of a leprechaun’s toenail clippings.

Pfizer’s loyalty to profits supersedes its patriotism, but its executives are saying it’s “un-American” to keep them from dodging taxes by taking their profits, which are mostly earned here, offshore.

The Wall Street Journal, of course, is defending Pfizer. The WSJ also believes that we should commit exorbitant military resources to the Middle East while also saying we should reduce taxes, which would strangle our ability to make war, so its logic is suspect.

Big Pharma, Pfizer and its ilk, spends more money on lobbying than defense contractors do, and defense contractors live and die by government deals.

As a result, Big Pharma has been allowed to write a lot of its own rules.

That’s why Americans spend 30 percent more on prescription drugs per capita than Canadians. That’s why U.S. government stopped Americans from buying drugs for less in Canada, even if it was saving money for families and taxpayers who cover Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

That’s why Big Pharma can advertise its most overpriced prescription drugs over the air. People then demand those drugs from doctors, and the stratospheric prices get charged against insurance rates, which rise with the total health care bill.

Lately, some Big Pharma firms have been raising generic drug prices by 10 to 100 times, only because they can, in order to keep their profit bloat at current levels.

If Pfizer must continue to pay its share to support the nation that has stoked its profit machine, I say that is as it should be.

Irish eyes may not be smiling, but U.S. taxpayers should be dancing a jig.

Steve Hansen writes about our life and times from his perspective of a retired Tucumcari journalist. Contact him at:

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