Posted by: Khepera | Saturday, 8 August 2009

ARTICLE: The Hidden Truth Behind Drug Company Profits


Folks, if you’re not hip to this, ya gotta check this out. There are a great many *scandals* being continually revealed within our society. I dare say that this is in the top 2 or 3. As a good friend of mine, Laurence Rozier notes often on his Meshverse blog, the mechanism for conducting business, ‘protecting’ intellectual property — even how it is defined — is in the process of irrevocable change.

Part of this question involves a redefinition of “theft/stealing”, as well as “property” itself. This is an ongoing discussion, so feel free to leap in…..

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The Hidden Truth Behind Drug Company Profits
by Johann Hari

This is the story of one of the great unspoken scandals of our times. Today, the people across the world who most need life-saving medicine are being prevented from producing it. Here’s the latest example: factories across the poor world are desperate to start producing their own cheaper Tamiflu to protect their populations – but they are being sternly told not to. Why? So rich drug companies can protect their patents – and profits. There is an alternative to this sick system, but we are choosing to ignore it.

To understand this tale, we have to start with an apparent mystery. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has been correctly warning for months that if swine flu spreads to the poorest parts of the world, it could cull hundreds of thousands of people – or more. Yet they have also been telling the governments of the poor world not to go ahead and produce as much Tamiflu – the only drug we have to reduce the symptoms, and potentially save lives – as they possibly can.

In the answer to this whodunit, there lies a much bigger story about how our world works today.

Our governments have chosen, over decades, to allow a strange system for developing medicines to build up. Most of the work carried out by scientists to bring a drug to your local pharmacist – and into your lungs, or stomach, or bowels – is done in government-funded university labs, paid for by your taxes.

Drug companies usually come in late in the process of development, and pay for part of the expensive, but largely uncreative final stages, like buying some of the chemicals and trials that are needed. In return, then they own the exclusive rights to manufacture and profit from the resulting medicine for years. Nobody else can make it.

Although it’s not the goal of the individuals working within the system, the outcome is often deadly. The drug companies who owned the patent for Aids drugs went to court to stop the post-Apartheid government of South Africa producing generic copies of it – which are just as effective – for $100 a year to save their dying citizens. They wanted them to pay the full $10,000 a year to buy the branded version – or nothing. In the poor world, the patenting system every day puts medicines beyond the reach of sick people.

For the rest of the article…

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Responses

  1. […] Here is the original: ARTICLE: The hidden truth behind drug company profits […]

  2. The swine flu is less deadly by a long shot then ordinary flu. Why WHO is calling it a Pandemic is beyond me.


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