Robbing the poor to pay the rich – Novartis’ Christmas gift to itself!

16 December, 2008 | Health and Education For All

Imagine my horror when I discovered that a major pharmaceutical company has taken away up to $300 million that should have instead been spent developing new medicines for neglected diseases.

Novartis has recently been awarded with a ‘priority review voucher’ for registering its key anti-malarial medicine Coartem in the United States. This voucher is designed to stimulate and reward desperately needed new research and development to treat neglected diseases. These vouchers can potentially be vital tools to encourage companies to invest in diseases prevalent in developing countries.

But Coartem has already been around for seven years and is already widely used across the developing world – and therefore this voucher will not help create incentives for new research and development. Thanks to a critical loophole in the legislation that established the voucher program, Novartis will receive a huge amount of money that will do little to help develop new medicines, vaccines and diagnostics urgently needed in poor countries.

Less than 10% of global health research spending is currently spent on tackling diseases that primarily afflict the poorest 90% of the world. Pharmaceutical companies do not prioritize research and development to address diseases of the developing world, due to lower financial returns in poor country markets.

This means diseases such as Tuberculosis and sleeping sickness – that kill nearly 2 million people each year in poor countries but are under control or non-existent in rich countries - have been neglected for decades. The newest medicines to treat Tuberculosis are over 30 years old!

Funding for research and development is already woefully insufficient, yet medical innovation has the potential to deliver new medicines, vaccines, and diagnostics to overcome diseases that are needlessly killing millions of people. These vouchers need to be used for what they were designed – to stimulate and reward new research and development rather than making large pharmaceutical companies richer.

We hope that Novartis will correct this situation by transparently dedicating this windfall towards new research and development for medicines urgently needed in poor countries.

It is the season for giving after all.

For more information on this issue see Oxfam International’s new report Ending the R&D Crisis in Public Health: Promoting pro-poor medical innovation

Comments

wow

I can't believe big pharma is at it again! Great work Rohit in exposing their games. Good luck & happy holidays!

"Not So GREAT GREED GRAB Generation" takes pride in its work

How hubris, corruption and greed resulted in the spectacular collapse of the global economy.

In a world in which too many politicians are posers; too many economists are deluded; too many business powerbrokers with great wealth are con artists, gamblers and cheats; and too many of their absurdly enriched minions/’talking heads’ in the mainstream media "parrot" whatsoever serves political convenience and economic expediency, truth, ethics, equity and fair play are buried under cascading disinformational and anti-informational garbage found in a `tool box’ of pernicious rhetorical devices.

Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on the Human Population,
established 2001
http://sustainabilityscience.org/content.html?contentid=1176

Idolatry of the global economy and its profound implications

Three cheers for scientists who will not be silenced by the chance at great wealth, power, privileges and status that are sure to be derived from saying loudly and clearly only what is politically convenient and economically expedient.

Why not lay blame for the current economic catastrophe and the looming environmental calamity where it belongs: at the feet of the economic powerbrokers who organize and manage a colossal pyramid scheme, a modern representation of the ancient Tower of Babel? Is the pernicious denial of anthropogenic global warming and the human-driven destabilization of Earth's climate not primarily for the purpose of preserving the selfish material interests of a few wealthy and powerful people, and their minions?

Let's look a bit more closely at the scandulous 'business' of Bernie Madoff, confidence games, Ponzi schemes and other financial vehicles for funneling, accumulating and concentrating billions of dollars in unearned wealth into the hands of a tiny minority of people who comprise the top of the global economy.

There are many minions of the wealthy and their bought-and-paid-for politicians who "spread the word" of these schemes. Con men operate pyramid schemes. They assure "plausible deniability" and "legal cover" for all that is said and done.

Only a telling of the truth about what they are doing is forbidden. That is the one and only thing that is verboten. Do not break their vow of silence by telling what is true about the perpetration of the schemes {ie, the only games in town, so they say}, because the "houses of cards" out of which a modern Tower of Babel is constructed immediately is exposed as fraudulent and patently unsustainable. These pyramidal constructions can withstand any force except that which is presented by speaking out loudly and clearly about what is happening in these enterprises. As soon as light of what is true was shed on Bernie's scheme, the house of cards he had constructed fell.

Bernard Madoff may be the first of my "Not So GREAT GREED GRAB Generation's" kingpins to find that his "house of cards" has collapsed; but I dare say, Bernie will not be the last. There are other kingpins and many too many minions ready, willing and able to play along in what looks like the greatest self-enrichment scam in human history.

Why not say that greed is not good and mean it? Why not assign value to personal honesty, accountability and transparency?

Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
established 2001
http://sustainabilityscience.org/content.html?contentid=1176

Novartis

At my age(76) and with my means (embarrassing by European and North American standards) I am not worth much but I have a computer and I have time(and I have words). In stead of tut-tutting sympathetically or raging impotently what can I do? I have a theory (which applies to me as well?) According to social research done by a British company(I think) the 'better off" in a community compare themselves 'compassionately ' to the 'worse off' in the community and thereby sub-consciously obtain self-satisfaction and happiness with out generally doing much about it, thus the comparative paucity of Aid.(Spare a thought for the politician, they only do what they think will please their constituencies). In Europe and North America, where most of the 'better off' reside there is therefore much tut-tutting about the state of the poor in Africa and Asia. So, in stead of tut-tutting myself, what can I do?