Medicine From Mexico? Bernie Sanders’ Race To The Bottom With Drug Safety

David Williams

March 16, 2017

This article appeared in Independent Journal Review on March 7, 2017

Bernie Sanders rails against “the rich” for using legal deductions to pay less taxes, but then uses the same techniques to keep his own tax bill low.

He’s a self-described socialist who honeymooned in the USSR, but in 2016 bought a waterfront vacation home (his third), just like the targets of his anti-market rhetoric.

He bashes Uber as an “unregulated” bad actor with “serious problems,” but whenever he needs a ride, guess which company he calls?

Although the media is loathe to ever mention it, Sanders is a man of glaring hypocrisies. But his latest move to allow pharmaceutical drugs to be imported from Canada and then Mexico is rich, even for him.

In the past, Sanders has made a huge deal about the safety of seafood and other imports from countries with labor and regulatory standards like those of Mexico, including Vietnam.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership “would make it easier for countries like Vietnam to export contaminated fish and seafood into the U.S.,” Sanders said in an article lambasting the trade agreement.

“The FDA has already prevented hundreds of seafood imports from TPP countries because of salmonella, e-coli, methyl-mercury and drug residues. But the FDA only inspects 1-2 percent of food imports and will be overwhelmed by the vast expansion of these imports if the TPP is agreed to,” Sanders continued.

For starters, Sanders is wrong about how much the FDA inspects. The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point food safety system is designed not to simply inspect at the end but to regulate throughout the value chain. Even then he ignores or is unaware how products that are put on import alert are inspected 100 percent of the tim – thus making that 1 to 2 percent number far higher. His hyperbole is quintessential statistical cherry picking.

Regardless, let’s say he doesn’t believe that countries like Vietnam can produce things like seafood responsibly. It then makes no sense that Mexico can produce our medicines.

Sanders’ latest drug proposal would allow for drug reimportation from any country in the OECD. That list includes Mexico, Estonia, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia and Turkey. Many people wouldn’t mind buying a pair of shoes that were manufactured in those countries, but it is safe to assume that people would have some big questions before they take a cutting edge biologic drug that was made there.

Producing next generation pharmaceutical drugs is a highly complicated process. If producing aspirin is like making a bicycle, newer medicines are like manufacturing an airplane.

It doesn’t make sense that that Sanders would be worried about the regulatory standards for food but not medicine. It also makes zero sense from the standpoint of which product is harder to produce or more harmful if produced poorly.

Generally speaking, all of Sanders’ concerns on behalf of American jobs fall to the wayside when it comes to the American drug industry, which utterly dominates the world in producing new life-saving medicines. The reason, as far as anybody can tell, is that Sanders sees drug companies as standing in the way of his goal for single-payer health care.

As a socialist, Sanders wants to nationalize the few remaining parts of the health care system that are still driven by market forces. But when he released his plan during the presidential campaign, even liberal economists scoffed at the insane amount of money he wanted to spend. It is clear that he believes he can take out the drug companies, dramatically reduce prices by fiat, and bring socialized medicine through.

The downside would be killing the research and design pipeline for new drugs, so we’d be stuck with only the medicines that have already been invented. Also, if you love waiting in line at the DMV, just wait until you have the same experience at hospitals, doctors offices and pharmacies.

Every country with single payer has rationing and lengthy lines for care. Our current health care isn’t perfect, but there’s a reason people fly here from around the world to have surgeries performed.

In any event, it’s time to finally call out Sanders for his blatant hypocrisy on this and many other issues. The people holding him up as some paragon of political virtue are only doing so because they like his socialist policies.

The hypocrisy from Sen. Sanders must stop and his legislation must not move forward for the sake of safety and future drug development.

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