George Graham

Health is not a Commodity

health care2

Nearly four decades after coming to the US from Canada (and before that, Jamaica), I am still bewildered by some aspects of American society. One of the things that puzzle me most is the concept of health as a commodity – to be bought and sold, profited from and bankrupted by.

The recent price manipulations of some vitally needed pharmaceuticals is an example of this gruesome trade.

I have just signed a petition to a woman named Heather Bresch, protesting the 400 percent price increase of the life saving drug EpiPen. People with severe allergies (like my son, Ross) depend on this drug to counter potentially fatal allergy attacks.

Ms. Bresch is the CEO of the company that makes EpiPen, and she raised the price of the drug because it makes good business sense to her.

“I am running a business,” she told The New York Times. “I am a for-profit business. I am not hiding from that.”

Shkreli-and-Bresch-800x430Ms. Bresch is not alone. I’m sure you remember Martin Shkreli (at right with Ms. Bresch), the infamous CEO who jacked up the price of the anti-nausea drug Daraprim. The public backlash forced him to back down. And perhaps Ms. Bresch will reconsider her move, too.

But the question in my mind is:

Why are for-profit interests allowed to control America’s health care industry?

Surely the health – the survival – of the people is more important than that?

The US Constitution obligates the government to “promote the general welfare.” By exposing Americans to predatory exploitation by health-care profiteers, our elected representatives are obviously violating that Constitutional provision.

Government provided health care is overdue in America. Health care for profit is an obscene idea.

More on the EpiPen scandal

More on for-profit health care

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for