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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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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.

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