Sen. Bernie Sanders U.S. Senator from Vermont

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The pharmaceutical industry has become a major health hazard to the American people.

Our nation pays – by far – the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. As a result of these outrageous prices, nearly one in five Americans cannot afford to fill their prescriptions. Meanwhile, the five largest prescription drug companies made a combined $50 billion in profits last year. That is unacceptable. A lifesaving product does no one any good if a patient cannot buy the medicine they need, and that is now happening far too often in the richest nation in the world.

A new report out today from Americans for Tax Fairness explains how a pharmaceutical company, Gilead Sciences, games the system to charge high prices, shift profits offshore and avoid billions in U.S. taxes.

Gilead sells a drug called Sovaldi, which is used to treat the hepatitis C virus. The drug was developed with taxpayer funds by a researcher who worked at the Department of Veterans Affairs and founded a small drug company. Gilead bought the company for $11 billion, acquired the government-provided monopoly rights and set the price at $1,000 per pill, or $84,000 per treatment in 2013.

U.S. public and private insurers, taxpayers and patients spent more money on Sovaldi in 2014 than on any other prescription drug. Gilead made its investment back in less than a year.

If gone untreated, hepatitis C can end in what one nurse-practitioner called “some of the worst deaths I’ve ever seen.” She said, “At the end, you die not knowing who you are, your belly looks 12 months pregnant, you’re malnourished, and you’re bleeding to death.”

Patients with hepatitis C are often low-income and a disproportionate number of them are veterans. Yet many Medicaid programs have had to limit access to the drug, and despite spending literally billions of dollars on the new hepatitis C drugs, the Department of Veterans Affairs initially struggled to provide the medication to every veteran who needed it.

Meanwhile, Gilead’s profits have quintupled since it started selling the drug, from $4 billion in 2013 to $22 billion in 2015.

It gets worse. The Americans for Tax Fairness report finds that Gilead has dodged nearly $10 billion in U.S. taxes.

How is that possible?

Read more of this article by Bernie Sanders here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rep-bernie-sanders/taxpayers-funded-a-lifesa_b_10968542.html