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Pfizer


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From: The Socialist issue 810, 7 May 2014: Fight cuts, Back strikes, Vote TUSC

Search site for keywords: Pfizer - Nationalise - Jobs - Drugs

Pfizer takeover bid

Nationalise to serve 'public interest'

'Big pharma', notorious for ripping off the public purse with overpriced, ineffective and sometimes dangerous drugs, is once again displaying its rapacious appetite for profit in the current multibillion takeover bid of US based Pfizer for UK based AstraZeneca.

The rationale behind Pfizer's acquisition move is twofold. It wants to avoid paying taxes back in the US by spending its accrued overseas dollar cash pool. And it also wants access to new drugs without investing in research.

Should Pfizer succeed, then it's a racing certainty that thousands of jobs will be axed and research and development (R&D) facilities closed, in both companies.

Former head of Pfizer's R&D, Dr LaMattina, admitted: "In major mergers today, not only are R&D cuts made, but entire research sites are eliminated. Nowhere is this more evident than with Pfizer."

In 2011, 1,500 jobs were axed and part of its laboratory in Sandwich, Kent - where Viagra was invented - was shut.

Labour leader Ed Miliband attacked Tory Prime Minister David Cameron as being a "cheerleader" for the takeover, and said that it's not in AstraZeneca's workers' interests. Cameron in turn said he had received "robust" assurances from Pfizer on UK jobs and investment.

Ownership

But the suggestion that a 'British' multinational company is better for jobs and R&D than a 'foreign' multinational is false. As the Institute of Directors points out, AstraZeneca is "run by a Frenchman and chaired by a Swede".

Also, the board of AstraZeneca is stuffed with former investment bankers. How can these people be trusted to ensure future jobs and R&D facilities in the UK any more than the bigwigs at Pfizer?

In fact, not that long ago, AstraZeneca axed 11,000 jobs worldwide in 2012-13 including hundreds of jobs in the UK and the relocation of 1,600 posts when it moved its R&D HQ from Cheshire to Cambridge. This relocation was despite the company previously getting a 5 million 'regional growth' grant, secured by Chancellor George Osborne.

Miliband and Lib Dem business secretary Vince Cable's call for 'public interest' rules to govern such takeovers is largely empty rhetoric. They are simply playing to the electorate while, in complete contradiction, continuing to defend the capitalist 'free market'.

The only way to defend the public interest is to nationalise the pharmaceutical industry under democratic workers' control and management and use big pharma's resources to pioneer effective medical treatments at prices which don't undermine the National Health Service.

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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.
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  • 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.
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