By S.C. Sherman
Seems like I’ve been writing about Senator Chuck Grassley lately. Last month it was an internet gaming bill now it’s drugs. He’s just the man in the big chair. He has earned a position of leadership in the Senate and that means he wields a lot of power. Like Uncle Ben said, with great power comes great responsibility. However, Senator Grassley has never forgotten his Iowa roots. When he finally gives up his office, he’ll come back to Iowa. He is the one who started the Iowa 99 thing that Presidential Candidates like to copy. He visits every one of Iowa’s 99 counties. He loves the people of Iowa and he’s never forgotten that he’s a farmer and then a politician. Well, as a politician he gets asked to care about a lot of things most farmers never even think about, like how patent reform relates to drug prices.
It turns out that there is a chance to significantly affect the price of drugs in America by changing the patent laws that are currently being abused beyond belief to keep Big Pharma in Big Money! I like to keep things simple. I know you Iowa State grads will say that’s because of my Hawkeye degree, but it’s not that. Well, mostly not. Anyway, before I got that fancy degree from Iowa, I was just a farm kid from Grinnell. I grew up walking beans and detasseling. Then I joined my Dad’s travelling construction crew. We were all over Minnesota and Iowa building football and baseball aluminum bleachers. Let me tell you, that is where I learned some vocabulary that we’ll just call Layman’s Terms! Even though I know a whole lot $25 words I learned during my time at the University of Iowa, I’m still comfortable with the “F” word as an adjective or an exclamatory or a verb or a noun or an ancillary, well you get the idea…I like things spelled out plain.
Here’s the deal. Big Pharma has been using patent law to lock up their formulas for years on end. This eliminates competition and allows a drug company to charge $20 per pill or $250 per pill and there is nothing to do but pay it. Finally, when the patent runs out, generic pill makers make a generic version of that $250 pill for about $2. Say what? Yeah, now is a good time for an exclamatory statement starting with an F bomb!
It so happens that this year there is a chance to bust some of this crony corruption up. It’s not going to get much press because it’s boring to talk about, but I’m writing about it anyway. There is a bill called H.R. 9 the Innovation Act sponsored by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia). The idea is to crack down on costly and abusive patent lawsuits to ultimately help consumers by severely limiting the billions drained from our economy through abusive lawsuits. Our Senator Chuck Grassley has the power to facilitate this type of bill and that will seriously help the consumer. Click here to read more about recent happenings in the world of political Pharma.
If the power of Big Pharma to basically have limited monopolies was destroyed we would see real competition and prices of drugs would normalize to sustainable and justifiable rates. Yes, it is possible and yes great innovations would still take place. Patents would still protect fantastic new innovation in biopharma, but the abuse of the people would be brought into check. Grassley is in a position to help this actually come to fruition.
Patent reform has support from both sides of the aisle. Who doesn’t want to say they’ve helped lower the price of your meds to the constituents back home. Patent reform supporters are hopeful it will come to both chambers after a packed September agenda. But both Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Darrell Issa have stated pessimism that the bills would ultimately include an exemption for biopharma patents allowing them to continue business as usual. However Grassley said, “But that’s not the best thing to do. There are some in the tech community who think we've already gone too far.”
I for one don’t think you’ve gone too far. By all means, keep going. Competition is good in any industry. Big Pharma is no exception. If you’ve ever had to buy an antibiotic for your crying kid with an ear infection at two in morning without a drug card…let me tell you...you thank God for generic!
Go Chuck Go! Patent reform will mean cheaper drugs, and that’s for everyone…even Iowa State fans, we all know they need medication!
S.C. (Steve) Sherman grew up an Iowa farm kid. He graduated from the University of Iowa and lives and works in Hawkeye country. Steve is an author, popular radio commentator, and former Iowa House candidate. His articles have appeared nationally in both print and online. His most recent novel, titled Mercy Shot, can be found on Amazon or at www.scsherman.com Steve can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org