Rethink breaks for drug firms

What is now public in the past two weeks, what these pharmaceutical companies have done, there can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that they are responsible. … There is no doubt that they knew these drugs were addictive; there is no doubt they lied to the public … for a long period of time.”

That was Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine earlier in August, reacting to published data that showed the depth of the pharmaceutical industry’s involvement in sparking and fueling the substance abuse epidemic plaguing our area.

But a report by The Columbus Dispatch points out something disturbing. During the same years (and, in fact, still today) those companies were deliberately pumping poisons into our communities and acting as a kind of “legal” drug ring, they were also receiving huge tax breaks from Columbus.

According to the Dispatch those tax breaks have been worth more than $4 billion since 2006, and the subsidy is growing at a rate of approximately $500 million per year.

DeWine’s office was quick to point out the law that created the subsidies that may have helped some pharmaceutical distributors do their dirty work was passed during the Bob Taft administration, and that it helps all distributors, not just pharmaceuticals.

Revoking the tax breaks wholesale would do more harm than good, especially since doing so would affect many blameless firms.

Nevertheless, lawmakers and DeWine should go over those contracts with a fine-toothed comb to be sure there isn’t something that can be done now to avoid rewarding the rogue companies for what they have done to Ohio and other states.


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