The U.S. medicines system is broken. Millions of Americans suffer and some even die because they cannot afford medicines discovered by government-funded research. At the same time, corporations holding monopoly patent rights to those medicines collect some of the largest profits in modern capitalist history.

It does not have to be this way. The global legacy of treating essential medicines as a public good and the robust U.S. history of government seizure of private property for the public interest reveals a better path: the United States should nationalize its pharmaceutical industry.

U.S. statutory law already provides broad powers for the executive branch to immediately order the substantial manufacturing and distribution of patent-free medicines. That statutory authority should be immediately implemented and further expanded. In addition, U.S. constitutional law justifies a full seizure of all industry assets.

Given the pharmaceutical industry’s substantial reliance on government funding and licensing, along with the industry’s widespread malfeasance that harms the public welfare, the amount of compensation for this seizure will be limited. That seizure and compensation will finally conclude the tragic era of medicines profiteering and launch a new system that restores life-saving medications to their rightful role as affordable, accessible public goods.