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Tulsi targets Big Pharma at local event

By ADAM URQUHART - Staff Writer | Feb 5, 2020

NASHUA – A bit of aloha spirit swept through the Nashua Public Library on Tuesday when Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii greeted city voters awaiting the opportunity to question her.

Without knowing the results of the Iowa caucuses, Gabbard took to the campaign trail to address voters in the Granite State to participate in The Gateway to the Election Candidate Series. This event was sponsored by The Telegraph, Rivier University and the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce.

Gabbard believes that in every area of political discourse, there is a place of common ground that can be found. Examples may be the desire for clean water; quality and affordable education and housing; criminal justice reform; immigration reform; and even health care. Gabbard said families across the country are struggling with rising health care costs, regardless of party affiliation.

Gabbard invited those who had gathered to stand up with her and refuse to identify themselves simply as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans.

One thing Gabbard wants to accomplish is guaranteeing quality, affordable health care for every American, regardless of their wealth.

“In my administration Big Pharma, big insurance, will have no seat at the policy meeting table,” she said.

Gabbard is proposing a health care plan loosely modeled after the system in place in Australia. Gabbard is calling her plan Single Payer Plus. Her plan is based on guaranteeing quality, affordable health care for all, while still allowing for the private market to exist. Therefore, if someone is content with their employer sponsored plan, they can stick with it, for example. Additionally, if there is a supplementary plan or other private plan someone prefers, they will also have the ability to make that choice they feel is best for them and their loved ones.

Gabbard said as president, she would work with Congress to pass legislation to ensure that government can negotiate lower prescription drug prices. She said it is Big Pharma’s influence in Washington, D.C., that prevents this from occurring.

Gabbard said Big Pharma companies apply for a patent for a certain medicine and get a certain time during which they can produce and sell that medication. Once that time expires, generic drug companies are allowed to produce the same drug for a much lower price. However, this is not always the case with some medications.

“They’re abusing this because they’ll go and just shift and tweak one little component of that medication so they can hit reset on the patent clock, and then continue to maintain a monopoly for another seven years, blocking these generic drug companies from coming in and producing cheaper drugs,” Gabbard said. “That has to be fixed.”

The third point Gabbard made regarding this issue is that the nation needs to allow drugs to be imported from countries with price controls, specifically Canada.

Gabbard said prescription drug companies often try to justify their high prices by referring to the costs associated with being able to develop these drugs. However, Gabbard said Big Pharma firms often spend more on advertising than they do on research and development on those drugs, citing insulin as an example.

“We can’t be blind to the reality that a lot of people are already going to Canada to buy their medicine, insulin, things that are far cheaper there than they are here at home,” Gabbard said.

Adam Urquhart may be contacted at 594-1206, or at aurquhart@nashuatelegraph.com.


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