Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/807/18478

From The Socialist newspaper, 16 April 2014

Tamiflu scandal exposes bloodsucking big pharma

Jon Dale

Nineteenth century snake oil sellers travelled the USA, claiming they could cure all manner of illnesses. Sharp sales methods earned them a few dollars from ordinary people. By the time their medicine's useless properties were discovered, the conmen had moved on.

Today, pharmaceutical corporations follow similar practices, while profiteering on a giant scale.

The government has paid 473 million for flu treatment Tamiflu in the past five years. A new report concludes it is no more effective than paracetamol. For years its manufacturer, Roche, deliberately hid research showing Tamiflu's limited benefits and significant side-effects.

When 'bird flu' broke out in East Asia in 2007 there were justified fears it could spread to become a worldwide killer, like 'Spanish flu' after World War One. More people died from it than soldiers killed in the trenches.

The last Labour government stockpiled enough Tamiflu and a similar drug, Relenza, made by GlaxoSmithKline, to treat 25% of the population. The US government spent $1.3 billion stockpiling these anti-viral medicines. Other governments also spent vast sums. Now it is clear this money was poured down the drain.

Independent Cochrane Collaboration academics repeatedly asked Roche between 2009 and 2013 for reports of the drug trials the company had carried out or commissioned. Roche refused to release the data, giving a variety of excuses.

First Roche offered to hand over some information, but not all of it, and it demanded a contract, with secret terms, requiring secrecy about the methods and results of trials. The researchers would not be allowed to reveal this contract even existed!

Then Roche claimed it couldn't send the information as it had given it to another group of researchers. It then sent incomplete information, before raising a new objection - 'patient confidentiality'. Finally they accused members of the Cochrane group of not being independent.

Through persistent work the Cochrane researchers discovered that only some of the evidence available to Roche had ever been published - the evidence that showed Tamiflu in the most favourable light.

Trials that had been poorly designed - or deliberately designed to give the answer company executives demanded - were published. Those that showed significant side-effects or few, if any, benefits were suppressed. Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of people around the world were taking Tamiflu.

Roche has a long history of profiteering. In 1973 it was exposed as charging the NHS 370 a kilo for Librium and 922 for Valium.

The same active ingredients of these tranquillisers could be obtained from small companies in Italy (where Roche's patents were not protected) for 9 and 20 a kilo respectively. Roche argued that it was unfair to look at the profitability of individual drugs, especially such highly successful ones as Librium and Valium, since these financed the company's overall research effort.

The Tamiflu scandal shows Roche's research is deliberately biased to sustain its mega-profits.

Roche is no bad apple in an otherwise wholesome barrel. In this past week alone a French inquiry has been announced into collusion between Roche and another pharmaceutical giant, Novartis, blocking the use of a cheaper alternative to their eye treatment, Lucentis.

A US court found Takeda and Eli Lilly guilty of hiding evidence of a possible link between their Actos diabetic drug and bladder cancer. Takeda destroyed large volumes of relevant documents.

GlaxoSmithKline is the subject of a new investigation that it bribed doctors in Iraq, adding to the continuing investigation of bribery in China and, recently, of bribing doctors in Poland to use their products. Drug companies have long carried out this practice worldwide.

Research and production of medicines and vaccines is far too important to be left in the hands of these ruthless corporations. Their aim is to generate ever-increasing profits - not safe and effective treatments.

A socialist government would nationalise the pharmaceutical industry, with compensation only to small shareholders in genuine need. The industry could then be integrated with the NHS.

A major shift in research would take place into prevention, rather than copying existing drugs in profitable markets, using the skills of their scientists and resources of their laboratories.

The global nature of the industry shows the need for socialism throughout the world.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 16 April 2014:


Socialist Party election campaigning

Help TUSC offer a no-cuts alternative on 22 May

Election appeal: help us make history

More cuts and another resignation in Southampton


Socialist Party news and analysis

Profit vultures out of NHS

Ending MPs' expenses scandal requires socialist change

Con-Dems escalate housing crisis

Tamiflu scandal exposes bloodsucking big pharma

Pit closures: Final act of Tory vandalism

Them & Us


International socialist news and analysis

40 years of the Committee for a Workers' International

India: massive election process could end in turmoil


Socialist Party workplace news

Gains for left on NUT executive

Stop the education catastrophe!

Health workers vote to fight government pay cuts

Strikers shut cinema in battle for living wage

Let down by Welsh Labour

RMT: Put the tube strike back on and escalate

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Beating Bedroom Tax evictions

NUS conference: sip tea or put up a serious fight?

Goldthorpe: Anger at Thatcher's destruction of mining

Anti-austerity demonstration called in Salford

May Day greetings with the Socialist


Readers' comments

Hard loads - and a fightback - on the bins

Working on zero-hour contracts

Disgusted at politicians' big business links


 

Home   |   The Socialist 16 April 2014   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Pharmaceutical:

triangleTories using pandemic to shift lab testing out of NHS

triangleBig pharma's profiteering holds back drug supply

triangleCaerphilly & RCT Socialist Party: Why the pharmaceutical industry must be nationalised to save lives

triangleToo little too late

triangleEnd profiteering from health - nationalise big pharma

Drugs:

triangleAnger after violent youth deaths - Communities need public services not cuts

triangleNationalise big pharma: end this profit-driven NHS crisis

triangleBig drugs companies dodge 3 billion pounds in tax

triangleSave our NHS

Doctors:

triangleThe Spanish Flu of 1918 and how it "fanned the flames of revolt"

triangleUS private healthcare system in meltdown

triangleUnder the microscope: Pandemic news in brief

NHS:

triangleTory NHS betrayal

triangleNo going back: Nationalise social care!

Drug companies:

triangleCardiff East Socialist Party: Nationalise the drug companies

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

8/7/20

Socialism

Fight for every job. Fight for socialism

8/7/20

Care workers

Johnson blames care workers for deaths

8/7/20

Leicester

End the scandal of sweatshop labour

8/7/20

Young people

No choice but to fight the system

8/7/20

Northern Ireland

Covid pandemic and Northern Ireland - workers must resist the bosses' offensive

8/7/20

Green

3bn green pledge: not enough for climate or jobs

8/7/20

Care Homes

No going back: Nationalise social care!

8/7/20

NHS

Tory NHS betrayal

8/7/20

Super-rich

1,600 less benefits if your job goes - while super-rich splash cash

8/7/20

Tories

Testing: Tories' 5bn gift to private sector

8/7/20

BAME

Poverty rises again - especially for BAME workers

8/7/20

Workers

Them and us

1/7/20

Coronavirus

Tory full return to school plans gamble with lives

1/7/20

Trans rights

Yes to self-identity

1/7/20

Waste

Plastic waste ignored

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999