Big Pharma’s obscene profits

Monopoly pricing and corporate greed are destroying healthcare systems in the UK and globally

Tarun Gidwani

Imagine a disability almost disappearing if you flew out of the Global South. I have severe haemophilia, a genetic condition that interferes with the body’s ability to clot after bleeding. When left untreated, anything – even a bruise or merely sitting down – can trigger a bleed, internally or externally. Anti-clotting injections can stop this.

However, outside the advanced West, these injections are sold at exorbitantly high prices. When I was a child in India, my parents couldn’t afford such treatment, so they’d bury my bleeding joints under piles of ice to freeze them. Almost all the bleeds I experienced in India were left untreated, resulting in permanent damage to my joints and internal organs. In the UK, the NHS home-delivers me these injections twice a month.

This global medical apartheid is created and perpetuated by pharmaceutical monopolies. Treatment pricing pursues a single sacrosanct goal: making profits. Trade laws allow corporations to keep most of their recipes secret, so that no one else can sell the same medicines at a cheaper price. Then the very same logic of capital menaces governments into withdrawing welfare nets – leaving families absolutely at the mercy of the market…