Saturday, May 29, 2010

Industry greed vs patient needs

Another chapter in the never-ending story of patient survival needs vs pharmaceutical industry greed. The Danish company Novo Nordisk, the world's leading supplier of insulin has decided to stop supplying near-bankrupt Greece with insulin, because the Greek government in a desperate attempt at saving money decreed a 25% price cut on all medicines. Patients are being held hostage here by a profit-driven organisation, to the extent that their well-being is at stake. So far for the myth that pharmaceutical companies are in the business of health... - One would hope that eventually the important lesson is learned by the powers that are that we cannot leave drug R&D more or less exclusively in the hands of for-profit operators. That the patients of whole societies can be held hostage by organizations such as Novo Nordisk, without recourse, is surely unacceptable.


  1. Have you not noted the blatant hypocrisy between this post and the previous post?

    Your position seems to be that a company has to sell at a loss if government diktat forces it to, but it is outrageous that you are made to pay for an environment-friendly scheme.

    This is just the self-serving anti-commercial prejudice of academe made blatant.

  2. lol... where exactly is the hypocrisy here? We have price ceilings on drugs in all sorts of countries (eg Australia). Greece is seen to be sufficiently weak by the Danish company that it chose to put the gun to the Greek government's head. What any of this has to do with my criticism of an environmental scheme that's hostile to consumers wanting to use it escapes me. How any of what I have said is hypocritical is equally unclear to me. I take it that you are unhappy about academics who are sometimes critical of corporations. Fair enough.

  3. I refer you to the BBC article:
    A spokesman for the Danish pharmaceutical company said it was withdrawing the product from the Greek market because the price cut would force its business in Greece to run at a loss.
    The company was also concerned that the compulsory 25% reduction would have a knock-on effect because other countries use Greece as a key reference point for setting drug prices.

    Selling at a loss means (1) the company is out of pocket, just as you were with the bike scheme, and (2) the good in question is being provided at less value than the value of the goods used to produce it. The latter was a perennial problem in command economies.

    So, it is bad if Udo Schuklenk is out of pocket, and Udo Schuklenk is fine with not participating in the scheme that led him to be out of pocket and to recommend others not so participate, but just fine if a corporation and its share-holders are out of pocket and it and they have no right to not participate in a government-rigged market that puts it and them out of pocket.

    The hypocrisy is blatant.

  4. k, two differences: 1) you have no reason to take Novo Nordisks claims at face value. Pharmaceutical companies have been proven time and again to make false claims about their cost of producing drugs; 2) I did not suggest anywhere in my blogpost that I was 'out of pocket'; 3) do you appreciate the difference between a company threatening to stop the supply of life-preserving medication versus my feeble attempt at undermining a bike rental scheme? I suspect you might not.


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