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tv   Ali Velshi on Target  Al Jazeera  October 21, 2015 1:30am-2:01am EDT

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president will face difficult economic challenges. the agricultural sector is one of many travels ahead. >> and you can get the latest news and analysis on our website. the address is there, aljazeera.com. i'm ali velshi, on target. pills and profit. why a wave of drug price hikes is a prescription for trouble as patient, hospitals and doctors all get squeezed. plus, fighting back against the real problem of fake online reviews. the political fewer ror raging in america over prescription drugs is exposing shortcomings of an
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old flawed price ever what drugs should cost. it's flawed for reasons to include society's unwillingness to accept what reasonable people consider price gouging. the phrase is tossed around after the guy running touring pharmaceuticals decided it would be fine to raise the prices of a drug used by aids and cancer patients by more than 5,000%. the guy that acquired the 62-year-old drug is martin, a hedge fund manager who defended the outrageous increase and agreed so scale back the hike. he is the gift that keeps on giving to clinton and bernie sanders. this week hillary clinton already said touring has not helped with the price, and called up for competitors to the drug. last month her plan to end price
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gouging knocked $40 billion off the stock market value of biotech companies. sanders has ignited a feud after rejecting a campaign contribution from the c.e.o. of schrelli. a goal netted was to address what sanders called the sky rocketing price of prescription drugs. here is where we need to put things into perspective. most drug prices are not soaring 5,000%. but prescription drugs are increasing steadily at a faster rate than inflation. pharmacy benefits manufacturers said drug spending by customers jumped 12.7%, more than triple the increase of the year before. price hikes caused 80% of that. inflation runs at 2% per year. and a wall street journal analysis of 30 top-selling drugs
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showed wholesale price increases averaged 76% from 2010 through 2014. more than eight times touring pharmaceuticals. it's not the only outrage. many of you have probably heard of valiant pharmaceuticals. they have become one of the most valuable drug companies in the world by buying other drug companies and raising price, and that put the canadian company and executives under scrutiny and pressure. mary snow has the tory. >> reporter: has a storm sift for 25 years, robert -- pharmacist for 25 years, robert has seen the price of pills go from pennies to goal. he was caught out when he needed pills costing $2300 for 100
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pills, tripling the price. >> that shocked me. that one was crazy. >> the drug was approved in 1977. he says it's part of a wave of price hikes in drugs, including eye drops. >> both have gone from 10-$20 to over $100. they make them and save on it. it's now owned by val yant. >> any reason given? >> no, none whatsoever. the common thread - both drugs are owned by valiant pharmaceuticals in quebec, and the company has been criticized over increases over two heart medications. nitropress is used in hospitals and valiant bought their parent company in 2015. when the cleveland clinic that uses the the drugs noticed a vial go of 601% and nitropress up 300%. >> the thing that is troubling,
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it's the same drug coming off the exact same manufacturing line, probably by the same people. the only thing that has changed is the name on the label of the company owning it. >> scott is the chief pharmacy officer at the cleveland clinic. and says valent is far from alone in the sharp price hikes of older drugs, saying nine individual drugs will cost the hospital app extra 11.2 million. five of them belong to val yant. >> you have to give them credit financially, it was creative. unfortunately for health care, i don't think it's ethical. but they determined wait a minute no one else makes the drug. the price is low because it's been around forever. if we buy it, we can charge what we want. and price gouge, which is what we saw. >> reporter: valiant pharmaceuticals is not known for innovation, but for buying drugs
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and jacking up prices. that has brought scrutiny in the just from doctors and politicians, but prosecutors in new york and massachusetts. val able to last week received supereenas about how it prices and distributes drugs. valent c.e.o. said the company is cooperating with the investigation, and the company declined our request for an interview. in a letter to the sirnt mccaskill. he was written: even though patients may not feel an immediate impact of price hikes on drugs used in hospitals. there's a ripple effect through higher insurance costs and ultimately tax players through medicare and medicaid.
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>> all this does is enrich the executives at the companies, and raise the cost of health care for everyone. >> mary snow joins me now. first of all, let's go back to touring pharmaceuticals, which got the headlines to start with. hillary clinton said they haven't lowered their prices. where does it stand. >> right, when the media scrit ni was on. the c.e.o. said they'll roll back the prices. clear. >> let's talk about valiant. al it's a bit of a convoluted explanation. have they said anything more? >> senator mccaskill said she is not satisfied with the answers, calling them inadequate. and made a point saying valiant pharmaceuticals responded after it received subpoenas. valiant responded saying it was a detailed explanation, a 7-page letter. he is saying she'll continue her
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investigation and we'll hear more about it. the companies are not enjoying the media security, the c.e.o. calling one a moron. >> the c.e.o. of valent pharmaceuticals was on a conference call, and said he couldn't address the investigations, but addressed the scrutiny saying he felt the pharmaceutical industry was being aggressively attacked. it begs the question that he said going forward there would be moderate price increases, maybe 10% for the company. if it was easy to roll back prices or make the decision, why were they so high to ge bin with. here the cost of prescription drugs is going high. more on that >> when i met daisy, it was the best day of my life. when my past caught up with me
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and made us all pay the price. >> the social worker said, "i'm gonna have to take the baby". they took my family. i don't know how i'm gonna do it but... i need another lawyer. you're gonna have to kill me to take my child.
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i'm talking about rising prescription drug costs in american. you heard the story of the valiant pharmaceuticals, a company that buys drug companies and raises prices, i wanted to u.s. you discuss it with val able to c.e.o., he declined. so instead i'll talk with the solutions. this is the founder of a consulting firm that vises companies on their health care
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plans, and says the u.s. is quickly approaching a breaking point where the price of drugs is outpacing what most americans can afford. some doctors said the price hikes are not a fluke. what is behind them? >> i think there's a couple of issues. we have to be really careful in talking about price increases, distinguishing between an egregious case, and the cost of new drugs that bring value through improvements and benefits. better standards of life. the drug price is more expensive. i think that one of the things that is challenging for everyone who talks about cost issues in health care is that it's not enough to look at the price of the drug, you need to look at
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the impact of the drug on total cost. >> there's a number of experts that have done studies on this. one coming saying there are drugs that work on different types of cancers, and they'll prolong one's life. and there'll be different ways of starting that. it's not just what the company can charge for the drug. >> if we take a step back, we have to look at the context of our health care system. what we have is a capitalist system. we have a number of players, drug manufacturers, device manufacturers, health insurers, doctors, hospitals, that all need to make a profit. in order to survive and drive and provide the innovations that we are looking for. and so part of what we have to
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co is be careful about vilifying companies for making any kind of profit. the question is the degree. >> right. we are okay with virtuallifying tory and val rants. -- val yant. >> i'm fine with that. >> one of the issues is generics can sell drugs, they don't have to common. the pharmaceutical industry said one in 10 is a lock buster. the issue is when the generics are the ones boosting prices. now we are paying for someone remanufacturing a drug. >> here - i agree with you. i was personally offended by what tourny did. it hurts everyone, there's no excuse for that.
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when you look the them. if someone takes a generic judge, i'm not going to say charge 5,000. if someone takes a generic and runs new trials and finds new applications, that is added value. if they add patient services, if they do more follow up. providing other ways to help patients do a better job of staying the course and getting better outcomes, it ads value. the things this everyone needs to slow down is look at the details, and not use a broad push to point everything. >> this is not
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new, you saw the stuff some say the last thing they want is heavy-handed government involvement which critics say stifles innovation, is there something in the middle that works. interesting that you ask. there's a direction that the health care system is moving in. we have a ways to go. it's called value-based pricing. the idea is that companies are reworded. it can mean better health economics. the yt is that companies get the premium price, the bonus of delivering extra care, when the benefit is realized. >> there's a lot of thinking, as
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i told you about, though goes on on the front that reevaluates what you call value, outcomes, extending life, whatever the case is. there does seem to be a push that the industry is not interested in this. people like you are, hospitals, doctors, people that want to perform prescription drugs. >> a farmer pays a lot of money to lobby, to say we've got this. >> i would disagree with that. i've been at conferences where i heard members saying this is where we are heading. >> good to talk to you, thank you for your insights. the founder of a consortium. tomorrow, sir richard branson uncut. the billionaire entrepreneur tells me why he leaked a
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document that could change the way countries like america could deal with the war on drugs. >> we know what they think. they said criminalizing people is harm. and unnecessary. and said millions of unnecessary arrests have taken place over the past few years, this is from the body that is in ov overseeing the war on drugs on a global basis. they basically committed the approach. >> whenever in the united states people use examples from europe or canada, often the response is these are smaller places, given the scope and the size, can they be plied to the united states. >> absolutely.
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what i would suggest is that the legalization of marijuana and the selling of medical marijuana. attacks from that. if that goes into addiction interests for both drugs and chom. you then have to win -- and alcohol, you then have a win all around. in states you haven't seen a high uptake or massive increase in damages as a result, or the reverse. do it in more states, tax it, and then use that money to help people that have drug problems. >> richard branson. >> amazon is fighting back.
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staying it's >> where we are standing right now will be the panama canal. >> this will be flooded. >> we have upgraded for bigger ships. >> now we go for weeks without water. >> techknow's team of experts show you how the miracles of science... >> this is what innovation looks like. >> can affect and surprise us. >> i feel like we're making an impact. >> awesome! >> techknow - where technology meets humanity.
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>> i've been asked to keep my voice down cause we are so close
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up. e we are so close when it comes to knowing what consumers are buying, few countries have a big ir stake than amazon.cox. the biggest online retailer depends on consumer product reviews to sell laptops to vacuum cleaners, what the
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country is looking for. reviews equal money, that's why amazon is suing more than 1,000 for writing fake recruits and selling them. companies can buy sham reviews to drum up a bogus buzz about their product or use them to denigrate a rival. holding them to account may be harder than you think. phoney reviewers are based outside the united states. this is a man that nose more than a little about the online reputation. this is the founder of reputation.com. michael, thank you for joining us. this is no big secret that there are fake reviews. many have struggled. it's a little bit of buyer beware, if you are a consumer online.
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what do you think of the step that amazon is taking? >> it's a productive step. amazon is making sure that the marketplace is clone. a clean marketplace will be successful. they always think about the long term. they are famous. the quality of reviews will predict the quality and the outcome of the marketplace. not just whether they are good or bat. but whether they are honest. in the case of amazon, some people sued, as anonymous defenders, because we don't know who they are, they are selling the prospect of a verified review. it is based on actual knowledge, upfront, intimate hands on knowledge. product. you are claiming to create a review, that is more valuable than the regular review.
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in my book, with all our customers, and the global 2,000, we emphasise that it's important never to by a fake review, never to incent vis if you can avoid it. avoid customers. >> that happens. you and i buy things saying give us a review on amazon. >> i don't mind asking for review, that's the right way to do it. a lot of pollings say we'll give you a discount on your next stay or a bottle of wine in exchange for an honest review, most of the time you ask for an honest reu. even that is the honest approach. asking your customers to give a review. most companies and incident vicing are asking honestly, but
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think the net effect is confusing. rt best thing to do is make it easier for the customers. it works. the marketplaces that have been meeting places for fake reviewers bring sellers from the west together with fake reviewers from the east. i have become aware over the years in running my company that there are other companies that buy reviews from ukraine and belarus. people from whom $5 or $4 or $3 is real money. that's how they make their living. they farm out the reviews and sell them in the way a piece rate. a marketplace is done. it confused the buyer, the seller and the marketplace. >> you are a thinker of these things. at what point when we have the freedom of speech, it's not free
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if someone pays you to say it. particularly in political speech in america. how do you govern it and decide what is legitimate and what is not. is the the manner in which someone is incent viced to produce of review. >> i went to law school and one of the first things you learn is your playground kindergarten version of what the law is is just wrong. there's nothing in the law that protects fake paid peach. in fact, the law disincentivizes but nation you liable, criminalizes paid fake speech. in america there's a set of protections for consumers against a fake paid speech. i don't think it's a difficult question. we do do it through ftc or find ways in the american system to protect the consumer.
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how to enforce it is difficulty. amazon has been forced to file a john doe lawsuit. they don't have an inkling who the creators are. amazon has to file in a federal, sometimes a state court, a lawsuit against jane doe and through ip addresses tacking users with a name can uncover the person doing this. this is a legacy of the communications decency act, intended to protect the website from liability from something that someone contributing the website is saying. unlike al jazeera, on the
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hook from a liability circumstance, they have no liability for something that may be happening. amazon has to file the john doe lawsuits. a small company, website, with never have the means to file a john doe lawsuit. it could be years to recover basically no money. you have to rely on someone like amazon, which is so wealthy, to fight a fight that will be good for it economically. a big money loser. they spend a lot of money getting names, no money in damages, to dry up the market. >> or create a dis incentive to people. >> if i were entitled to do so, i'd give you this. >> thank you, you always get a 5 star review in my book. >> thank you for joining us.
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that's our show for today, i'm ♪ >> after almost a decade in charge, canada's conservatives were routed at the voting poot. prime minister stephen harper is out. and the liberal leader, justin trudeau will form a new government with an outright majority. what will that mean for america's biggest trading partner. head north, turn left. it's the inside story. ♪

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