One week before Michael Moore’s hotly debated documentary Sicko was scheduled to open, Mark H. Rachesky, M.D. -- the founder and president of MHR Fund Management LLC -- purchased 33.4 percent (over 40 million shares) of Lions Gate stock.
Lions Gate (along with Weinstein Co.), the company distributing Sicko, had planned to release the film in over 1,600 theaters across the United States in June 2007. However, one week prior to the release (the same week that Rachesky made his purchase), the number was reduced to 400 theaters.
While this could be mere coincidence, some are questioning whether Rachesky’s stock purchase was made for controlling interests in Lions Gate. Typically, for a shareholder to gain major influence on a company, he or she would need to purchase at least 51 percent of the shares.
However, in certain instances an individual can maintain control with just 33.4 percent of shares… which is the exact amount that Rachesky purchased.
Further, Rachesky is involved with a number of health care companies who stand to be impacted by Moore’s provocative film. Rachesky is:
- On the Board of Directors of Keryx Biopharmaceuticals, Inc.
- An investment broker for NovaDel Pharma, Inc.
- The beneficial owner of Medical Nutrition USA, Inc.
- The Director of Neose Technologies, Inc., a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company
- An investor in Emisphere Technologies, Inc., another biopharmaceutical company
Sicko was released, it has been pounded by criticism. Some claim that the rescue workers in the film got “VIP treatment” in Cuba while others say Moore was “fudging the facts.”
Clearly, there is a lot at stake when it comes to a film threatening to expose some of the pervasive problems in the U.S. health care system, and it would not be a stretch to assume that a big player in the pharmaceutical industry would attempt to limit viewers’ access to the film, as the article suggests.
If you have not yet seen Sicko, I would highly recommend it, as it provides an excellent introduction to the flaws plaguing the U.S. health care system.
I don’t, however, agree with Moore’s solution, which is essentially for the U.S. government to pick up the tab. What is wrong with this solution?
Most illness in this country is NOT acute trauma (where a government-paid system may make sense) but rather chronic degenerative diseases. If the government took on the costs of theses diseases, the country would likely become bankrupt rather quickly.
Remember, the United Sates is already paying more than $2 trillion a year for “health care,” -- and that’s without paying these extra costs.
What’s even more important, though, is that the majority of chronic illnesses could be prevented and treated if the country returned to preventative medicine that treated the cause of disease -- and valued nutrient-rich foods and exercise over artificial and often dangerous pharmaceutical products.
Please, rather than waiting for a change in the health care system to make you healthy, gain the vigor you deserve now by Taking Control of Your Health.