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Pharmaceutical industry: A dose of reality

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Pharmaceutical industry: A dose of reality


FOR years, African countries have paid exorbitant amounts for pharmaceuticals developed in the US, including drugs such as AZT, which is used to treat Aids.

The reasoning was always that it cost pharmaceutical companies upwards of US$1bn to create these drugs — and these costs must be recouped.

But a new investigation of the murky tax breaks used by the industry tell another story entirely.

Take the case of Puerto Rico, a small island in the Caribbean which is officially a US territory. It may seem unlikely, but in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Puerto Rico became a destination for drug companies seeking to make use of its status as a tax haven. There, one of the small coastal towns, called Barceloneta, was even dubbed “Ciudad Viagra”, as it churned out 100m of Pfizer’s little blue pills.

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Who owns WHO?

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First - Introduction to Dr. German Velasquez...
"Dr Germán Velásquez is Special Adviser for Health and Development at the South Centre, Geneva. Dr. Velásquez holds a degree in Philosophy and Humanities, and a Master’s in Economics and a PhD in Health Economics from the Sorbonne University, Paris. In 2010 he received a PHD Honoris Causa on Public Health from the University of Caldas, Colombia.

Until May 2010, he was Director of the World Health Organization –WHO- Secretariat on PublicHealth, Innovation and Intellectual Property, at the Director General Office, in Geneva. He is a pioneer on the debate on health, IP and acces to medicines and he represented WHO at the WTO Council for TRIPS from 2001 to 2010."
http://www.snis.ch/content/german-velasquez

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Corporate links of global health foundations may conflict with philanthropic interest


Summary:
Major philanthropic foundations in global health, which often influence and shape the international global health agenda, have links with food and pharmaceutical corporations that could constitute a conflict of interest to the foundations' philanthropic work, reveals a new analysis.
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The global market for cancer drugs has hit $100 billion in annual sales, and could reach $147 billion by 2018, according to a new report by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, a unit of drug data provider IMS Health.

This figure does not include discounts or rebates paid to insurers and government programs; IMS says that in the case of cancer drugs, this should not make a big difference the overall figure.

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WASHINGTON — Facing resistance from Pacific trading partners, the Obama administration is no longer demanding protection for pharmaceutical prices under the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, according to a newly leaked section of the proposed trade accord.

But American negotiators are still pressing participating governments to open the process that sets reimbursement rates for drugs and medical devices. Public health professionals, generic-drug makers and activists opposed to the trade deal, which is still being negotiated, contend that it will empower big pharmaceutical firms to command higher reimbursement rates in the United States and abroad, at the expense of consumers.

“It was very clear to everyone except the U.S. that the initial proposal wasn’t about transparency. It was about getting market access for the pharmaceutical industry by giving them greater access to and influence over decision-making processes around pricing and reimbursement,” said Deborah Gleeson, a lecturer at the School of Psychology and Public Health at La Trobe University in Australia. And even though the section, known as the transparency annex, has been toned down, she said, “I think it’s a shame that the annex is still being considered at all for the T.P.P.”

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Giant International Trade Treaties Center on Science

The proposed deals have the potential to boost research but could also weaken health and environmental protections

By Daniel Cressey and Nature magazine | May 28, 2015

Two treaties that would govern most of the world’s trade—and change how nations across the globe use scientific evidence to craft regulations—inched closer to fruition this week. On May 22, the US Senate approved legislation that could speed up approval of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

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Cash-strapped Greece has racked up mounting debts with international drugmakers and now owes the industry more than 1.1 billion euros ($1.2 billion), a leading industry official said on Wednesday.

The rising unpaid bill reflects the growing struggle by the nearly bankrupt country to muster cash, and creates a dilemma for companies under moral pressure not to cut off supplies of life-saving medicines.

Richard Bergstrom, director general of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, told Reuters his members had not been paid by Greece since December 2014. They are owed money by both hospitals and state-run health insurer EOPYY.


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The Shadow Superpower

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ForeignPolicy.com
BY ROBERT NEUWIRTH
OCTOBER 28, 2011

Forget China: the $10 trillion global black market is the world's fastest growing economy -- and its future.


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With only a mobile phone and a promise of money from his uncle, David Obi did something the Nigerian government has been trying to do for decades: He figured out how to bring electricity to the masses in Africa's most populous country.

It wasn't a matter of technology. David is not an inventor or an engineer, and his insights into his country's electrical problems had nothing to do with fancy photovoltaics or turbines to harness the harmattan or any other alternative sources of energy. Instead, 7,000 miles from home, using a language he could hardly speak, he did what traders have always done: made a deal. He contracted with a Chinese firm near Guangzhou to produce small diesel-powered generators under his uncle's brand name, Aakoo, and shipped them home to Nigeria, where power is often scarce. David's deal, struck four years ago, was not massive -- but it made a solid profit and put him on a strong footing for success as a transnational merchant. Like almost all the transactions between Nigerian traders and Chinese manufacturers, it was also sub rosa: under the radar, outside of the view or control of government, part of the unheralded alternative economic universe of System D.

You probably have never heard of System D. Neither had I until I started visiting street markets and unlicensed bazaars around the globe.

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Natural News
June 09, 2010
by: David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Sales of alternative medical products are on the rise in spite of -- and perhaps in part because of -- tough economic times.

According to a study reported in The Daily Mail, the British alternative medicines market has grown by 18 percent in the past two years, to a yearly value of £213 million ($333 million). This value is expected to rise to £282million, or another 33 percent, in the next four years. This increase has been seen across the board, even in less well-known treatments such as traditional Indian ayurvedic medicine.

In the United States, retail sales of vitamins and supplements totaled almost $639 million between October and December 2009, a nearly 10 percent increase from the same period in 2007. Sales of herbal supplements have increased 6 percent. The true scale might even be higher, as the figures do not include sales from Wal-Mart or club stores, where people are more likely to turn when there budgets become more restricted.

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Natural News
June 3, 2010
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor

(NaturalNews) In the midst of runaway economic problem in Greece, the pharmaceutical industry has decided to blackmail the nation and halt shipments of medicines to Greece until it agrees to pay full price for the drugs. In order to cut costs during its severe debt crisis, Greece had announced it would pay drug companies 25 percent less for their products, but this loss of profit was enough to convince several pharmaceutical companies supplying key drugs to the country to initiate their own medical blockade where they simply refuse to deliver any more medicines.

In doing this, Big Pharma shows its true character. When the profits are flowing and the companies are raking in full-price profits, they're you're best friend. But when budgets get tight and everybody is asked to take a cut, Big Pharma betrays your country and its citizens, withholding medicines in a thinly-veiled blackmail attempt to force you to cough up more cash.

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