Bluntly put, Big Pharma’s harm against humanity is immeasurable. After buying health professionals for marketing purposes, Big Pharma has now employed other clandestine approaches to dupe the public.
In the United States, one of Big Pharma’s biggest allied actors in the health sector is the American Medical Association (AMA). Almost all members of the AMA are secretly funded by Big Pharma. Big Pharma’s fundamental objective is to be in league with the AMA, so that it can exert influence on the association to help sell its drugs to the public.
Currently, Big Pharma has devised a new way to completely take over the AMA. Big Pharma is acting on the theory of ‘catch them while they are still young’. This implies that the industry is targeting health professionals from the grassroots. Big Pharma funds medical students, and done subtly, it’s difficult to detect. Big Pharma has therefore succeeded in creating an atmosphere in which medical students have come to value the industry’s input in patient care, ultimately leading to patient and societal harm.
The pharmaceutical industry and the medical field are inextricably entangled. One creates the necessary medications, and the other delivers the medications to patients in need, in the disturbing trend.
Aspen Pharma is a giant pharmaceutical company based in South Africa. Although the company is based in Africa, it does the majority of its business in Europe. Between 2009 and 2016, Aspen made abnormal profits of more than 650%.
The greed of the pharmaceutical companies is displayed in these abnormal profit margins made by Aspen; forcing the British pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to sell its shares to Aspen, earning about £1.5 billion in the process.
As part of this criminally motivated deal between the two pharma giants, GSK sold its five different cancer drugs in 2009 to Aspen. This deal is said to have been worth about £273 million. Immediately upon Aspen buying these drugs from GSK, it tried to sell the medicines in Europe for up to 40 times their previous price.
In 2013, the price of one pack of a generic chemotherapy drug called busulfan – used to treat leukaemia – rose from £5.20 to £65.22 in England and Wales. The other four drugs, including Leukeran, also used by leukaemia patients, and melphalan (trade name Alkeran), for skin and ovarian cancers, was also priced four times higher than normal.
Unbeknownst to the public, this abnormal soaring of prices was a deliberate plan by Aspen to rob patients. The Sunday Times in Britain published leaked internal emails of top Aspen employees showing them jubilating and celebrating over the price hikes of these cancer drugs.
The Times also uncovered that staff at Aspen planned to destroy stocks of life-saving cancer medicines during a price dispute with the Spanish health service in 2014.
In a confidential email published by The Times, an Aspen employee wrote: “We’ve signed new reimbursement and price agreement successfully: price increases are basically on line with European target prices (Leukeran, a bit higher!)… Let’s celebrate!”
At the time that Aspen was engaged in the price dispute with the Spanish authorities, the Spanish online newspaper El Confidencial Digital reported that the pharmaceutical giant threatened to stop selling the cancer drugs unless the country’s health minister agreed to raise prices by 4,000 per cent. The leaked email also confirmed that staff at Aspen discussed destroying their supplies of the drug during the dispute with the Spanish authorities to drive the price up.
The Independent reports that price increases of drugs are made possible by a loophole that allows drug companies to change the price of medicines if they are no longer branded with the same name. It is said the loophole is designed to make drugs cheaper once their patents have expired, but if drug companies have no competition, they are free to increase prices as well.
According to the European Cancer Congress, price rises for generic cancer drugs, such as those acquired by Aspen, cost the National Health Service (NHS) in England around £380 million a year for prescriptions dispensed outside of hospitals.
A study conducted by Britain’s Department of Health also confirmed that there has been a sharp increase in the price of cancer drugs in the last five years in the country. The department is now crying over the incident, saying it is planning to cut generic drug costs.
“No pharmaceutical company should exploit the NHS. We are working closely with the Competition and Markets Authority on unwarranted price rises of unbranded generic medicines, and where companies have breached competition law, we will seek damages and invest that money in the NHS,” MailOnline quoted the NHS as saying in statement.
But can we really blame Big Pharma for perpetuating this fraud? The best friend of our government is Big Pharma. Big Pharma is a source of campaign funds for politicians. It is the criminals calling themselves politicians who have nurtured this fraud, allowing it to thrive. They don’t represent us, rather, they represent the greedy corporations.