Big Pharma, reeling from a disastrous 2015 in U.S., makes enemies anew in UK
If the worldwide pharmaceutical industry didn’t have enough people breathing fire at them stateside, it’s getting some more heat from sources overseas. The Mancunion, published in Manchester, ran an article about drug companies and their reticence in helping England reach its anti-HIV goals. The piece, titled “The Dark Side of the Pharmaceutical Industry,” focuses its criticism mainly on the often prohibitive pricing of HIV and AIDS treatments.
“Over 36 million people are currently living with HIV, however only 15 million of them have access to the treatment that they desperately require. This treatment reduces the chance of transmission by 97 per cent, meaning that it could essentially be used as a prevention method,” Mancunion says.
It sounds a lot like reactions here in the U.S. to price-gouging and pricing out of patients who need medications but can’t afford them under the conditions of their insurance (co-pays) or out of pocket. It’s remarkable, because the UK, unlike the United States, offers universal healthcare.
There’s a lesson here for us. A system merely called “universal” isn’t sufficient. If Obamacare is expanded or replaced by a broader coverage scheme, doctors and patients will still need to campaign so that the system covers their particular situation. A preventive drug for HIV seems like it would be proverbial “no-brainer,” however.
And the U.S. isn’t the only nation where lobbyists and other industry insiders make a lot of money helping make pharmaceutical corporations as profitable as possible. Wherefrom the profits originate isn’t as important as their size and how companies reinvest them. Certainly a multinational drugmaker will throw money around (or at least attempt to) in as many countries as it thinks it can get away with.
One of the gripes coming out of England is that pharma firms don’t reinvest profits into research and development of new treatments as much as they should. Sound familiar? Yes, it is one of the biggest concerns for patients and patient advocates here, too.
What we really have before us is indeed a dark side of the pharmaceutical industry, as posited by Mancunion. I say “a” dark side, because other darkness exists in the multi-trillion-dollar world of prescription drugs. It’s a world I explore, in a fictionalized way, in my upcoming novel DEADLY PRESCRIPTION. Ever-churning, secret profitability meetings, where decisions that don’t consider the patient are made over and over again are dark places. Sometimes the decisions aren’t just greedy, they’re criminal.
Do Big Pharma annual profits of over three trillion dollars attract the criminally minded? One need only Google the name “Martin Shkreli” to take a more informed guess. So, when we talk about an industry that often focuses on profits at the expense of patient wellness – patient lives, dare I say – could the criminality go even further than corruption and fraud?
You’ll have a chance to judge for yourself in mid-2016, with the publication of DEADLY PRESCRIPTION.