from the refreshingly-honest dept
We’ve covered the continuing efforts of emerging economies to provide key medicines for their populations at affordable prices. To do that, they often invoke their right to use compulsory licensing to bring down costs. For understandable reasons, the big pharma companies aren’t happy with that approach, but usually dress it up as a concern about the supposed threat to “innovation” that it represents — their claim being high prices are needed to fund expensive research. But as Techdirt has noted, pharma’s estimates of expenditure here tend to be hugely inflated, which rather undercuts that argument.
Bayer Chief Executive Officer Marijn Dekkers called the compulsory license “essentially theft.”
“We did not develop this medicine for Indians,” Dekkers said Dec. 3. “We developed it for western patients who can afford it.”
That’s a refreshingly honest admission that rather than wanting to save lives around the world, what Bayer is interested in is maximizing its profits by selling expensive drugs to “western patients who can afford it,” and that those who can’t pay can just, well, drop dead — which, of course, is precisely what many of them will do without Bayer’s drugs.
Some might say that’s a perfectly reasonable position — after all, Bayer and the other pharmaceutical companies are for-profit concerns. But they weren’t always so dismissive of humanitarian concerns. Here’s what George Merck, who became president of his father’s eponymous chemical manufacturing company in 1929, said on the subject, as quoted on the Today in Science History site:
We try never to forget that medicine is for the people. It is not for the profits. The profits follow, and if we have remembered that, they have never failed to appear. The better we have remembered it, the larger they have been.
Bayer’s CEO obviously disagrees.