The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Drug Companies:
Tricks of the Drug Trade Keep Profits Sky High

Jun 25, 2001

The big drug companies have been pushing lately to extend their patents on particular drugs.

Bristol-Myers got a new patent last year that will prevent a competitor from manufacturing a cheaper generic version of its anti-anxiety drug BuSpar for three years. In just this one deal, Bristol-Myers gained over one billion dollars total!

By using a second patent on how to administer its cancer treatment drug Taxol, Bristol-Myers again prevented the production of a cheaper generic version of the drug–enabling it to take in another extra one billion dollars.

Pfizer filed for and got a second patent on its epilepsy control drug Neurontins. Preventing production of a generic version boosts Pfizer’s income an additional billion and a half dollars every year.

All told, the drug companies made an estimated 79 billion dollars extra last year due to patent protections.

When confronted by evidence of their patent-protected price-gouging, the big drug companies claim that they need to be able to sell the drugs that they invented at hugely inflated prices so they will have the money needed to conduct the research and development of new and better drugs.

Nonsense! According to their own figures, the drug companies spend almost twice as much money on advertising and promoting their drugs as they do on developing them. As far as actual research goes, they pay only about 40% of the total spent on drug research. And a big portion of their research is directed to ways of extending their patents on existing drugs. The rest, 28 billion dollars, comes from the federal government, universities, private foundations and charities. And the results of all this research are turned over free, or nearly free, to the drug companies.

No, drug prices are high because the pharmaceutical companies play on our need for their medicine to make enormous profits–so high that the average rate of profit in the drug industry is about double that in most other industries.

They are holding our health hostage to their ddrive to accumulate wealth.