Some ways drug companies are scamming for profits

Whenever it comes to figuring out healthcare and drug companies, it always seems that someone is making way too much money and the people are left trying to figure out how to make sense of it all.

In a recent article, written for Aljazeera, an online website, the author focuses on the scam he believes drug companies take part in every day. His article, titled “The Great Billion Dollar Drug Scam” sheds light, in his opinion, on this very subject as he examines methods used by multinational drug corporations to control markets – and lives.

The author, Khadija Sharife, is a journalist and visiting scholar at the Centre for Civil Society (CCS) based in South Africa. He discusses several areas by which he believes drug companies are scamming for profits. One example is when it comes to pricing structure and profits.

He states, “Drug companies such as GSK (GlaxoSmithKline) have often claimed that the high cost of “innovation” i.e.: research and development (R&D) is between $1bn and $1.7bn to bring a new drug to market.”

During the past several decades, the pharmaceutical industry in the US – more than half comprise of European-based companies – has largely been the most profitable industry in the nation’s economy thanks to mechanisms such as the lack of a government-imposed pricing structure.

“Free pricing and fast approval secure rapid access to innovation without rationing,” said Daniel Vasella, the former head of (Swiss-based) Novartis, of the advantages of doing business in the US.

Drug multinationals claim that US consumers are forced to fund the necessary research and development in order to keep global innovation going. In Australia, Europe, as well as Canada – the source of much prescription drug “re-importing” by US citizens, where drugs sometimes sell for half the going US price – governments ensure pricing structures render patented drugs affordable.

While drug multinationals generate considerable profits from these countries, about 50% of global drug industry profits are generated in the US. In 2006, for instance, global prescription drug sales totaled more than $640bn – where almost $300bn were US-generated sales.

But the real deception is less the Machiavellian tactics used by Big Pharma to Botox the bottom line than the terrible myth behind the “true” price of innovation: the $1bn pill. From 1996-2005, Big Pharma firms spent $739bn on marketing and administration (M&A): “Administration” costs here include accounting, executive salaries (including bonuses, stock options etc) – as well as human resources expenditure. Meanwhile, “Marketing” consists of direct-to-consumer advertising, sales pitches and free samples to doctors, alongside advertising in medical journals.

This is purely one example of the “scam” according to Mr. Sharife. The article also exposes areas such as drug costs, tax secrecy, how they are profiting from AIDS treatments and killer tactics. You can read this article in it’s entirety by clicking on the following link: .


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