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.