The editorial reprinted from the Mankato Free Press on May 1, "Worker shortage cure: immigration," suggests an increase in immigration to relieve worker shortages caused in part by an aging population. What it doesn't mention is that these new workers will also age out of the workforce resulting in demand for an ever-increasing population to meet those needs. At some point we must find ways to adjust to a mature demographic structure, filling jobs that are essential and closing out some that are not.
Les Everett, Falcon Heights
LOWERING DRUG PRICES
Companies won't do it for us
The drug industry group PhRMA has repeatedly sponsored misleading full-page ads in this paper (one example ran on April 13).
It's amusing to see two of the greediest profiteers in our insane, for-profit health care system — drug and insurance companies — blaming each other for the unaffordability of prescription drugs. The truth is, they are both guilty, as are the lawmakers who have failed to rein in these two price-gouging industries!
PhRMA's flawed argument, that price regulation will result in reduced innovation and hope for lifesaving cures, is false. A Jan. 6 article from the Lever — "How Big Pharma Actually Spends Its Massive Profits" — reveals the results of a study by university economists. Quoting the article, the study found: "Between 2012 and 2021, the 14 largest publicly-traded pharmaceutical companies spent $747 billion on stock buybacks and dividends — substantially more than the $660 billion they spent on research and development ... ." While stock buybacks do wonders for enriching shareholders and CEOs, they do nothing for innovation.
Companies also waste money on lobbying and political contributions (over $645 million in the last two years) and marketing (tens billions of dollars annually). In addition, large pharmaceutical companies "spend billions of dollars annually on legal maneuvering to protect existing patents and preserve their market monopolies," according to a 2021 Harvard Business Review article.
That article states that the innovation process for most new drugs originates in small companies that are spinoffs of taxpayer- and philanthropy-funded university research.
We really need a strong Prescription Drug Affordability Board!
Dave Garibaldi, Osseo
Regarding "CVS gets $500K fine over Rx policy" (May 2): Minnesota is considering instituting an ill-conceived Prescription Drug Affordability Board (PDAB) over its state health care system, and the recent news of a state lawsuit against CVS brings more cause for concern. Not only are the allegations of CVS' pharmacy benefit managers illegally steering patients to CVS-owned pharmacies disturbing, but it also poses a major conflict of interest.
CVS leadership could very well serve on the Minnesota PDAB, a body tasked with overseeing the behavior of insurers and pharmacy benefit managers. However, insurers rely on pharmacy benefit managers to negotiate their plan benefits, giving them power in the relationship. Additionally, the board would have power to set drug prices, which will determine how and where patients have access to their prescription drugs. If what the lawsuit alleges is true, the Minnesota government would with one hand be suing CVS for limiting drug access to their own pharmacies and with the other give CVS and others in their industry the keys to the castle on how accessible prescriptions will be. This doesn't add up, and it is yet another example of why Minnesota's PDAB is a very bad idea for patients.
As a Minnesota expat and a patient with MS, it concerns me that Minnesota is speaking out of both sides of its mouth on this issue. Big insurers and pharmacy benefit managers have no right to install their own bureaucrats on a government board that dictates our drug prices. If Minnesota truly wished to improve our health care system, stopping alleged pharmacy benefit manager illegality and reversing course on the PDAB should both be on the table.
John Czwartacki, Washington, D.C.
The writer is founder and chairman of Survivors for Solutions.
My first experience with sky-high drug prices was at 22, when I used new health insurance to fill a prescription for a medication that had successfully treated my anxiety for 10 years. To my horror, the price for a 30-day supply that cost $25 on my family's insurance came to $3,000.
There was no way I could afford to pay $3,000 on an entry-level nonprofit salary. I began to ration my medication and raced to find a solution before anxiety symptoms took over. Fortunately, my parents helped find a Canadian pharmacy that would mail me a three-month prescription for $300. While this expense was still a large chunk of my monthly budget, I was able to make it work.
My story isn't unique. In Minnesota, many people struggle with high-cost medicine. Pharmaceutical companies are the No. 1 industry Americans think needs stronger regulations, topping Facebook and A.I.
Even though nearly all drugs on the market are developed using public funds, Americans pay higher drug prices than residents in other countries. And, pharmaceutical companies spend more on marketing, executive pay and lobbying than they do for research and development.
Minnesota has an opportunity to help residents by passing a Pharmaceutical Drug Advisory Board to oversee the costs of high-price drugs.
I urge you to support a PDAB to ensure no Minnesotan is forced to ration medication or choose between paying for lifesaving medicine and rent. All Minnesotans deserve access to medications we need to live full lives with dignity.
Jessica Zimmerman, Minneapolis
Compare to reality, not to utopia
As I read all the recent letters to the editor against legal marijuana, I wonder if the writers compare it to what we have now. Marijuana is everywhere; children have no problem getting all they want. What will we gain by keeping it illegal? Less control, more revenue for gangs, more people in jail and no tax income for drug rehab. When in history has prohibition worked?
David Newville, Coon Rapids
The current back-and-forth debate concerning cannabis legalization seems to be avoiding the reality that the majority of cannabis users will continue using cannabis whether or not it's legal — many have for decades. Because of impending legalization, hand-wringing has ensued. Surprise, any issues created by cannabis use have been with us for 60 or more years! Apparently, they have mostly gone unnoticed.
Gene Case, Andover
Has mine really doubled in value?
Kudos to Columbia Heights Mayor Amada Marquez Simula for her recent commentary on senior homelessness ("Cities need state's help to prevent senior homelessness," Opinion Exchange, May 1). I'd like to point out that it isn't just seniors who suffer from increasingly outrageous rents. I have lived in the same apartment complex for almost 10 years. When I moved in, rent was $750 per month. A little below market rate at the time, maybe, but very reasonable nonetheless. Fast forward to today. I now pay nearly twice that ($1,329 per month) for the same unit. The place I live is not fancy — we don't have a gym on-site, or even garages. It's comfortable, pleasant and in a convenient location, but that's about it. I'm very sure that part of the reason for rent rising this fast has been the proliferation of luxury apartments and condos. Why on earth are we allowing a boom in properties that charge beginning rates of four figures a month? We mere mortals need somewhere to live too, you know.
And lest anyone think I'm a low-income person who just needs to get a better job, I'm not. I'm a full-time professional who makes good money. Bottom line: We have got to get a handle on rents in the Twin Cities, for everyone's sake.
Linnea Sommer, St. Louis Park