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Pharma Blackmail: Astra Zeneca threatens to leave if Sweden doesn't buy more new medicine


Astra Zeneca threatens to leave if Sweden doesn't buy more new medicine
Tue Jul 20,10:17 AM ET
Source: Yahoo News

STOCKHOLM (AFP) - Anglo-Swedish drugs giant Astra Zeneca has threatened to move its research activities from Sweden if county councils do not stop recommending that doctors prescribe older, less expensive drugs to their patients, Swedish radio reported.

"Why should we put 11 billion kronor (1.48 billion dollars, 1.20 billion euros) a year into research in Sweden when Sweden as a country doesn't appreciate what these 5,000 researchers do?" Astra Zeneca's head of global drug development Martin Nicklasson told Swedish public radio station Ekot.

"New investments will probably happen outside of Sweden," he added.

Since the merger of Astra and Zeneca in 1999, the company has greatly enhanced its research activities in Sweden and has increased its total employee count in the country from 8,000 to 13,000.

At the same time, Nicklasson complains, Swedish county councils have been recommending that physicians in their districts not prescribe the company's newly developed drugs to their patients but instead stick to older, and thus cheaper medication.

Many Swedish county councils have for instance rejected Astra Zeneca's ulcer medication Nexium, instead advising doctors to prescribe its predecessor Losec or even cheaper copies of Losec, according to Ekot.

"In principle that is like saying that 'we aren't interested in innovation and new treatments because we want to save money'," Nicklasson said, refusing to divulge how many of Astra Zeneca's employees would be affected if the company follows through on its threat to stop funding research in Sweden.

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