Prior to the French Revolution, Marie Antoinette said “let them eat cake” when her subjects were starving. She was out of touch with reality. Similar comments may be made of Big Pharma. The CEO of Mylan, makers of the EpiPen, said in an interview, in unremitting language, “my duty is to my shareholders and not to the public.” She earned $18 million last year and is the daughter of a senator.

Free market does not apply to these Big Pharma companies, which have monopolies. Patients are at their mercy. One company raised the price from $18,000 to $30,000 for a seven-week course of therapy for patients who have cancer in the gastrointestinal tract. Multiple drug companies have extended their patents by making minor improvements to a patented drug. One company raised its price to $250,000 from $500 a decade earlier by combining multiple drugs.

They try to justify this as the cost of research; however, many of these drug prices bear no relationship to the cost of research.

This industry should be regulated like utility companies are, allowing them to have a reasonable profit — say, 15 percent on their products.

The high cost of drugs affects our insurance premiums and Medicare and Medicaid costs. Congress should pass a law allowing us to buy prescription drugs from countries like England or Canada, where the drug testing is good. Medicare and Medicaid should be able to bargain with the industry.

Ask our legislators and our congressmen what they would do to change the system and if they have no answers, vote them out. Perhaps we need a French Revolution in the Big Pharma industry.

Edward J. Cunningham

Springfield