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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 2, New Delhi, December 26 2020

Extended Report on Profits over Health - Track Record of the Big Pharma | Global Justice Now (Dec 2020)

Saturday 26 December 2020


THE HORRIBLE HISTORY OF BIG PHARMA: Why we can’t leave pharmaceutical corporations in the driving seat of the Covid-19 response

Authored by Dr James Angel and Nick Dearden
Editing by Heidi Chow.
Published by Global Justice Now | December 2020


The pharmaceutical industry is one of the biggest and most profitable in the world. Many of the individual corporations that constitute ‘Big Pharma’ enjoy annual revenues well in excess of the majority of countries on the planet. Judged by revenue, Johnson & Johnson is wealthier than even rich countries like New Zealand and Hungary. Pfizer’s revenues are bigger than oil-rich Kuwait or Malaysia. Leaving Moderna aside, which currently has no products on the market, the six other giant corporations covered in this report made combined revenues of $266 billion last year, with profits of $46 billion. Consider these figures in comparison with the US’s unprecedented programme of public spending on vaccine development, which could reach $18 billion,66 but is currently at around £11 billion, most of which has been handed over to the same rich corporations detailed in this report.67Many commentators look at the work of some of these corporations in 2020 – developing vaccines at breakneck speed – and conclude that, whatever the problems with ‘Big Pharma’, they have nearly delivered the goods. But this is to miss many important elements of the story which, when taken together, show that the current pharmaceutical model is actually deeply flawed, delivering outcomes which are poor value for money for the public sector, which exacerbate global inequality and which are driven by the objective to make sky-high returns to shareholders, not a healthier population. "

Read the full report here

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