WASHINGTON ― The pharmaceutical industry consistently ranks as the most hated sector of the economy. It is also the most profitable. This is not a coincidence: Sick people need medicine to live, and drug companies charge ludicrous prices to extract their margins. This puts Big Pharma in a class by itself, even among deeply unpopular companies. People can’t stand dealing with cable providers, but TV doesn’t keep anyone above ground. At least Walmart has low prices.
Drugs are ridiculously expensive for two reasons, both imposed by the federal government. First, the government grants pharmaceutical firms long-term monopolies on prescription medication. Second, the government bans itself from regulating the prices these monopolists choose to charge ― or even allowing Medicare or Medicaid to negotiate with them.
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