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From: The Socialist issue 877, 4 November 2015: 10 an hour now!

Search site for keywords: Them & Us - US - NHS - Workers - Pay - Pharmaceutical - Unemployment - Competition - Poverty - Drug companies - Drugs

Them & Us

Drug money

Drug companies have hiked the cost of some NHS medicines by as much as 8,000%.

The Tories and Blairites often say the cure for the health service underfunding is 'the market'. If only there was more competition, everything would be cheaper.

But drugs whose patents have expired - opening them to production by multiple firms - can actually increase in price.

'Merbentyl syrup', a treatment for stomach cramps, is one such medicine. Under patent, it sold for 1.77 a bottle. After three firms were allowed to produce generic versions, the same amount cost 143.84!

One firm behind the 8,027% hike, French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi, made 3 billion in profits last year. The NHS faces a possible funding gap of around 2 billion this year alone.

Sanofi's chief executive scrapes by on a mere 3 million per annum.

We're pretty sure we could find a better use for all that cash. The Socialist says: nationalise the pharmaceutical industry to help save our NHS.

2 billion

Funding gap NHS could face this year according to 2014 estimates

3 billion

Profits made last year by racketeering French drug company Sanofi

The bosses are the dossers

Less than half of unemployed people actually get unemployment benefit today. Only 45% of jobless workers receive the payment - down from 93% 20 years ago.

Some of this difference is made up by different benefits for people unable to look for employment. But it is also one of many factors holding down wages for those lucky enough to be working.

Unemployment fuels desperate competition for jobs, which lets bosses pay lower wages. Trade union struggle for higher pay, and public investment in employment and benefits, can help turn this round.

But nothing frightens poverty-pay bosses so much as public ownership under democratic workers' control.

The TUC estimates Britain's workers do the longest hours in Europe. One in five works an extra day a week in overtime (more in main story on page 2). Meanwhile, social media analyst Talkwalker says Britain's bosses top Europe's charts in another area - time spent idling on Twitter.

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