Alexander Zaitchik

Alexander Zaitchik is the author of Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance and, most recently, Out of the Ooze: The Story of Dr. Tom Price.

Recent Articles

Beyond the Planet of the Pharma Bros

A growing insulin crisis adds urgency to efforts to radically reform the prescription drug pipeline.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
As an exhibit of everything wrong with our corporatized health-care system, Donald Trump’s first Health and Human Services secretary is a tough act to follow. Less a pharma bro than a pharma granddad, Tom Price invested in drug makers while serving as their loyal guard dog in Congress, where he ferociously protected their public funding and bloated profit margins against regulation threats. By nominating the pharmaceutical executive Alex Azar to succeed Price, the administration has accomplished a difficult feat, offering up an even purer embodiment of market-based health care than Price. Azar’s confirmation hearings will showcase why 53 percent of Americans now support government action to lower drug prices. Roughly 45 million people don’t fill their prescriptions because they can’t pay for them. A subset of those people can barely afford the life-saving drugs sold by Azar’s former company, Eli Lilly. During his tenure as CEO, the company jacked up the...

Bidding Bon Voyage to Tom Price

The former Health and Human Services secretary who spent his political career trying to cut back health-care coverage for millions of Americans won’t suffer much once he lands on his feet.

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File
It is a poetic punctuation mark on the public career of former Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price that one of the flights that undid him landed at an airport serving the “Golden Isles of Georgia.” As a congressman representing a belt of Atlanta suburbs, Price years ago purchased beachfront property on St. Simon, the very “golden isle” he visited last August on one of some two dozen trips the former secretary of Health and Human Services took on privately chartered and government-owned Gulfstreams and Learjets. All told, these flights cost taxpayers more than $1 million, or roughly a fifth of the value of the St. Simon plot that serves as a monument to the legally and morally suspect fortune Price accumulated over a 20-year career in the U.S. Congress and the Georgia state Senate. The visit Price made to St. Simon during his final month at the apex of U.S. health care contains rich overlap with his personal life—a reminder of where Tom...

How the Government Can Bring Down Drug Prices

It’s done it before when public interest trumps patents.

(Photo: Shutterstock)
What if we could save millions of lives, eradicate a contagious disease, and repair a structural defect in the U.S. economy, all by asking the question: What is reasonable? This question—put another way, What is just?—is at the center of a health-care initiative brewing in, of all places, Louisiana. If successful, it could eradicate hepatitis C and put a fatal crack in a drug-pricing system that systematically balloons costs and kills the sick. The word “reasonable” comes from a piece of federal law known as 28 U.S. Legal Code 1498. It establishes the government’s right to infringe on privately held patents, should doing so serve the national interest. The government, in return, is obligated to give the patent holder what the code calls “reasonable compensation.” As with eminent domain, the government determines “reasonable” by the specifics of the case. In the case of the gestating Louisiana initiative, the patent in question...

Curbing Voting Rights in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, Republicans continue to hobble the state Democratic Party with a new voter-ID law.

On Tuesday morning, Wisconsin's Republican-controlled Elections Committee approved a controversial bill containing major changes to state voting law. If passed in the full Assembly, where it could see a vote as early as next week, the law would end same-day registration, eliminate the straight-ticket voting option on ballots, and require voters to present a state-issued photo ID at the polls. This last provision -- which includes strict guidelines as to what constitutes acceptable identification -- puts Wisconsin in league with more than two dozen other states where Republican lawmakers are pushing voter-ID bills that they claim address the phantom menace of "voter fraud." It has also fueled allegations that Gov. Scott Walker is less concerned with sound policy than with weakening the political power of key Democratic constituencies. The bill's main author and sponsor, Republican Rep. Jeff Stone, claims that the proposed law reflects his party's concern for the "integrity" of the...