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9 December 2015

Tax-dodging drug firm shuts research facility

Jon Dale

Pfizer has announced the closure of a Cambridge research institute. The world's biggest pharmaceutical company will axe 120 scientists' and support workers' jobs.

Pfizer says it is moving from pain relief research - carried out at Cambridge - to other fields. Only last year it wrote to MPs saying this site showed its "commitment to Research and Development in the UK and around the globe."

It said "the need for significant innovation combined with the sheer size of the potential patient pool ...will ensure pain remains a key target area for [Cambridge]."

Last month Pfizer bought Irish-based pharmaceutical company Allergan for 107 billion. It can now claim it is based in Ireland rather than the USA.

US corporation tax is 35%. In Ireland it's 12.5%!

With 128 subsidiaries in tax havens, Pfizer already registered 46 billion profit outside the USA in 2013.

Pfizer's 2014 profit was 15 billion - 42% of its income. This included a one-off 7 billion from selling its animal health business. Even without that, its profit margin was still 24%.

The NHS is massively overcharged by the pharmaceutical industry. The cost of Pfizer's epilepsy treatment, phenytoin, soared from 2.3 million in 2012 to 50 million in 2013, and remained over 40 million last year!

Pharmaceutical companies' main aim is to make profit, not to research and develop new treatments.

Society must keep scientists' skills and the Cambridge facilities. They should be used to benefit humanity, not greedy shareholders.

Taking the whole industry into socialist public ownership would mean scientists, health workers and governments could democratically plan research to meet real health needs.

The United States has fined Swiss drug maker Novartis 260 million for paying pharmacies to recommend inferior medicines with severe side effects. The US originally wanted to fine the firm 2 billion - it has conceded almost 90% of the penalty. Novartis netted nearly 7 billion profits in 2014.