War Wages On

At the beginning of the month, a bill was introduced to Congress by Senator Bernie Sanders and a cohort of other Democrats that would comprehensively overhaul the cost of prescription drugs, allowing for drug re-importation from Canada and giving the Government power to negotiate drug prices! After speaking with President Trump on the issue, who was said to be “enthusiastic” about the plan, it is now up to the Democrats to push the legislation through Congress and Senator Sanders is leading the fight!

Sanders has long been the champion of the people; ever since the ‘60s he’s been fighting for civil rights and gender and race equality, while battling against money and corruption in politics, Wall Street, private prisons, the corporate media, and the “billionaire class.” But holistic health advocates love him best for his war against Big Pharma on the issues of health care and drugs prices, insurance coverage, and marijuana legality.

More and more people are not simply content to go to a doctor’s office, get a diagnosis and take a pill … They want to know what the cause of their medical problem is and how, when possible, it can be best alleviated through natural, noninvasive or non-pharmaceutical means.

The message rings true for millions of people across the country and Sanders has personally endorsed alternative medicine as a solution to help the fight against the grip of pharmaceutical companies on America as a whole — pharmaceutical companies currently spend more on lobbying than any other industry, having spent over $3.5 billion over the last 20 years.

Early Days

For those of you who are well-versed in Sanders history of activism and progressive thinking, you will know that his pursuit of alternative medicine has been an ongoing vision. Although admittedly less glamorous than the fight against corporate greed and Wall Street, it is an issue he has been passionate about since his college days. While working as a carpenter in Vermont in his early 20s, he wrote an article in the December 1969 Vermont Freeman where he stated, “When the human spirit is broken, when the life force is squashed, cancer becomes a possibility.”

He believes in the theory that all of society’s ails become present through disease and illness. The National Nurses Union (NNU) who came out in support of his 2016 presidential election bid were vocal in support of this belief that every physical illness has a psychiatric component. “Ultimately, all the ails of society present themselves in illness,” says RoseAnn DeMoro, Executive Director of the NNU. “Everything has a physical or emotional or psychological component.”

Sanders has also endorsed and promoted the ideas of integrative medicine – a combination of traditional and alternative treatments like acupuncture and massage. As Mayor of Burlington in 1986, Sanders organized a Vermont-wide gathering of alternative and traditional medical practitioners to assess the potential that they could have to improve medical treatment in the area – eventually helping to incorporate them into treatment options across the city.

“No one denies the important roles that surgery and drugs play in treating disease, but people are now looking at different therapies in addition,” Sanders said when speaking at the event.

He also noted during his presidential election campaign that these efforts have not been in vain; across Vermont and the rest of the country, alternative treatments (like meditation, nutrition, and yoga) are much more common and accepted than they were 30-40 years ago. Once elected as Senator for the state of Vermont, Sanders chaired the Senate Committee on Veteran’s Affairs and pushed for expanded access for veterans to integrated medicine, and has advocated for alternate treatments for PTSD and chronic pain.

However, in fighting Big Pharma, Sanders has not simply promoted alternative practices, he has openly fought against the influence of money on health care in America, challenging systemic corruption through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Sanders has gone on record in Congress numerous times fighting against big pharmaceutical companies (including this speech protesting Monsanto’s ever increasing use of Bovine Growth Hormone).

Drug Prices Are Too Damn High

Drug prices are another health care cause that Sanders has devoted enormous swaths of time to – he believes that Medicaid should have the ability to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, pointing out that the U.S. pays the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.

From BernieSanders.com:

Americans pay, by far, the highest prices for prescription drugs in the entire world. When we talk about health care, we are talking about the need of the American people to be able to afford the medicine their health care providers prescribe. A life-saving drug does no good if the people who need it cannot afford that drug.

Last year in the U.S., some 35 million people did not get prescriptions filled because they simply didn’t have enough money. Back in 1999, Sanders put measures in place to combat the exorbitant price of drugs, taking seniors in Vermont across the Canadian border to purchase cheaper drugs – the Center for Disease Control estimates four to 5 million Americans fill their prescriptions outside of the U.S. every year.

HoneyColony spoke to PplsWar, a blog dedicated to promoting and discussing Sanders cause online:

Sanders in general supports alternative medicine, but that can mean so many things to so many people. He has made considerable headway on prescription drug price legislation. After the recent votes Elijah Cummings (Democratic Senator) even held a meeting with Trump about it and Corey Booker got a ton of social media backlash for voting against Sanders’ amendment for reimportation.

The bill that Sanders has introduced to Congress along with numerous other Democrats has got backing from likes of Al Fraken, Elizabeth Warren, and notably, Corey Booker.

While The War Against Big Pharma Wages On, Balance Your Health And Lower Disease Risk With The World’s Most Complete Supplement Kit.

Sanders

Big Pharma On The Back Foot

Sanders has long supported the legalization of marijuana, for both recreational and medicinal purposes, and co-sponsored a bill as far back as 2001 to move marijuana to a Schedule II substance. He argues that marijuana is a potential solution to the growing opioids crisis that is gripping parts of the country – it is versatile, cost effective, abundant, and can help to significantly reduce medical costs for the government and the public. According to JAMA Internal Medicine, states that have legalized the drug for medicinal purposes have seen a 25 percent lower opioid-overdose mortality rates.

In November 2016 Sanders slammed pharmaceutical companies in West Virginia, after it was discovered that out-of-state drug wholesalers have been pouring highly-addictive and lethal opioids into rural West Virginia towns, amounting to some 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills into circulation from 2010 onwards. Sanders publicly called for them to be “investigated and prosecuted” for gross pursuit of profits over public health. Since then a lawsuit has been filed against the companies in question, with the state seeking several billion dollars in remuneration.

Sanders was one of the few who fought against the appointment of pharmaceutical insider, Dr. Robert Califf, as FDA chief. You can see him grilling Dr. Califf during his confirmation hearing here. Sanders commented that in an interview at the time: “Dr. Califf’s extensive ties to the pharmaceutical industry give me no reason to believe that he would make the FDA work for ordinary Americans, rather than just the CEOs of pharmaceutical companies.”

In January of this year, Senator Sanders proposed legislation to make importing prescription drugs from Canada legal across the whole country. The bill gained bipartisan support, but was fiercely opposed by Big Pharma-backed candidates and was ultimately defeated 52-46.

However, because of Sanders use of the “role-call vote” the 12 Democrats who voted against the bill were lambasted on social media. Cory Booker was targeted particularly heavily online. The Huffington Post accused Booker and the other 11 Democrats who voted against the bill of “doing the industry’s bidding.” This, combined with the backlash felt by weasel like Martin Shkreli for purchasing Mylan’s EpiPen and then jacking up the the price fiftyfold, suggests that Sanders is affecting change in his long battle against the influence of Big Pharma.

One can only hope. The surge in chronic illnesses over the last century reflects a historic paradigm shift. We live longer yet we’ve never been a sicker species. According to the Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD), just one in 20 people worldwide are healthy, while one in three experienced more than five ailments in 2013.

Josh Hamilton is an aspiring journalist from Belfast, Northern Ireland, living in London, Ontario. Lover of music, politics, tech, and life.

 

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