This week, the articles that we have been reading at the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety (PPAHS) scream the same topic – Corporate Profits Should Never Be More Important Than Patient Health – and yet pharmaceuticals and health insurers act as though profits are more important to them than patient health.
Johnson & Johnson Ordered to Pay $572 Million
Recently, Johnson & Johnson, a company that “believe(s) good health is the foundation of vibrant lives, thriving communities and forward progress,” was ordered to pay $572 million by Judge Thad Balkman of Cleveland County District Court in Oklahoma. Reported The New York Times about the judgment:
Judge Balkman was harsh in his assessment of a company that has built its reputation as a responsible and family-friendly maker of soap, baby powder and Band-Aids.
In his ruling, he wrote that Johnson & Johnson had promulgated “false, misleading, and dangerous marketing campaigns” that had “caused exponentially increasing rates of addiction, overdose deaths” and babies born exposed to opioids.
The Opioid Epidemic has touched everyone’s lives – if we don’t have a family member or friend who has died or had an overdose, then chances are each of us knows of someone who has. Reports the CDC about the extent of the Opioid Epidemic:
Drug overdose deaths continue to increase in the United States. From 1999 to 2017, more than 702,000 people have died from a drug overdose. In 2017, more than 70,000 people died from drug overdoses, making it a leading cause of injury-related death in the United States. Of those deaths, almost 68% involved a prescription or illicit opioid.
And, yet, J&J seems to have put corporate profits ahead of the well-being of patients. As the lead attorney for Oklahoma stated:
“We’ve shown that J & J was at the root cause of this opioid crisis. It made billions of dollars from it over a 20-year period.”J&J seems to have put corporate profits ahead of the well-being of patients Click To Tweet Johnson & Johnson “caused exponentially increasing rates of addiction, overdose deaths” and babies born exposed to opioids Click To Tweet
Health Insurers Switched Medications to Save Money
When our doctors prescribe medication and we take the prescription to be filled, we expect our health insurer to provide us with the physician-prescribed medication.
However, in a recent report by the Maine Bureau of Insurance and Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation this is not always happening. The report found:
In just a single quarter, the state’s insurers reported more than 300 formulary changes, increasing the out-of-pocket cost burden for 80% of affected patients. In some cases, insurers completely removed drugs from their formulary. In other instances, insurers added barriers that make it harder for patients to access their medication. These included requiring prior authorization, imposing step therapy and moving drugs to a higher tier.
Corporate Profits Should Never Be More Important Than Patient Care
The notion that businesses should take care of their customers has been attributed to Jack C. Taylor, Founder, Enterprise Rent-A-Car:
“Take care of your customers and employees first, and profits will follow.”
In a reversal of this well-known concept, Johnson & Johnson and health insurers have apparently looked after their profits first and not their patients or customers. They seem to have forgotten Jack Taylor’s business 101 advice. Corporate profits should never be more important than patient health.