Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/929/24102
From The Socialist newspaper, 14 December 2016
Pfizer drug extortion - nationalise big pharma!
photo Creative Commons, photo Creative Commons (Click to enlarge)
Lisa Bainbridge, health charity worker
Drugs company Pfizer has been fined a record £84.2 million, and Flynn Pharma £5.2 million for excessive and unfair prices. The Competition Market Authority ordered the fine for hikes to anti-epilepsy drug phenytoin sodium, branded 'Epanutin'.
Pfizer sold distribution rights to Flynn Pharma in September 2012. Flynn then debranded the drug, releasing it from price regulation. 100mg of phenytoin sodium capsules, previously sold to the NHS for £2.83, rose to £67.50 - a hike of 2,600%.
There was a slight reduction in May 2014, to a mere £54. But the result had been an increase in NHS spending from £2 million to around £50 million a year in 2013.
The regulator found both companies abused their market position. Pfizer continued to manufacture the drug - at a price 780-1,600% higher than its previous sale price.
The NHS was locked into buying it. Changing medication even slightly risks loss of seizure control for the estimated 48,000 NHS epilepsy patients who rely on it.
Prescriptions dispensed in the community cost the NHS £9.3 billion in 2015, up 4.8% on the previous year, against an increase of just 1.8% on the number of items dispensed to patients.
In my own role in a health charity, we have been working for a year to save a prescribing budget of just £23 million in support of 150,000 NHS patients. That's less than half the annual profit raid Pfizer and Flynn Pharma conspired to achieve.
The National Audit Office has also recently warned that the NHS needs to find a further £14.9 billion in savings to close the gap between patient needs and available resources.
The NHS is at a crossroads. The choice is simple: a fully funded, publicly owned NHS with cheap, high-quality, nationalised drug manufacturing - or a system that continues to allow corporate raiding of the NHS at our expense.
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.
In The Socialist 14 December 2016:
Socialist Party news and analysis
NHS crisis: we're fighting back!
End the Tories' war on the working poor
Amazon workers living in tents
Pfizer drug extortion - nationalise big pharma!
Trust in politicians reaches all-time low
No to home seizures for care bills
Them & Us
What we think
Establishment EU crisis deepens - fight for a socialist Brexit
A socialist programme for education
What kind of education?
Education for all - not exam factories
International socialist news and analysis
CWI: opportunities for substantial growth
Workplace news and analysis
Glasgow Labour leaders deluged with protests
Victory for UPS parcel workers
Nationalise Tata Steel to save jobs and pensions
Bin workers strike against draconian management
Derby TAs to strike against pay cut
Southern: back the strike, nationalise the railways!
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Birmingham Labour: Corbyn supporters need not apply
The Socialist Party and fighting women's oppression
Doncaster: cuts give rise to 'tent city'
Scrooge Tory council confronted over treatment of homeless
Comment and review
It's the bumper Socialist 2016 quiz!
2016 sounds for your stocking
The Socialist Inbox
The Socialist 14 December 2016 |
Join the Socialist
| Audio | PDF | ebook