PhRMA Lobbying Power Topples the World

Dr. Doug Walta, recently retired chief executive of clinical programs, physician strategy, outreach and diversity for Providence Health & Services painted a bleak picture for Portland State University and Oregon Health Sciences University students preparing for careers in healthcare at a recent Institute for Healthcare Improvement Open School lecture.

The Lund Report, November 24, 2015
by Jan Johnson

America provides the world’s highest-priced care with the lowest life expectancy of developed countries, with half of all bankruptcies related to healthcare costs, while one in seven Medicare beneficiaries is harmed while hospitalized, Dr. Douglas Walta told students last week.

With 18 percent of GDP spent on healthcare, less money is available for schools, roads or other public goods. “We are a parasite taking it from everybody,” Walta said.

Trends portend a bleaker future still. “PhRMA has the most powerful lobby in the world,” controlling drug prices that even the federal government cannot negotiate, Walda said. “Universities have to sell their souls to the drug companies” because federal grant funding is largely gone.

Drug makers can charge $100,000 a year for a prostrate drug that doesn’t increase life expectancy. Hepatitis C drugs do cure the disease but “might break Oregon’s bank,” considering the number of cases in the state.

Only one in seven workers in the US is within a normal weight range, and rising obesity brings a cascade of vascular disease, joint disease and renal failure, Walta said.

The students themselves were less pessimistic.