Health for Sale

28 Jan 2009

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An excerpt from the documentary Health for Sale, which poses the question: "Are the world's largest drug companies, paradoxically, major obstacles to making a healthier world?"

The ten largest pharmaceutical companies form the so-called "big pharma." They control the world's pharmaceutical market.

In 2004, global spending on prescription drugs amounted to five hundred billion dollars. In 2002, big pharma's overall profit amounted to 35.9 billion dollars.

The profit made by big pharma exceeds the combined total profit of the other 490 multinationals on the fortune 500 list. In 2004, big pharma registered a total pre-tax profit of 205 billion dollars. Nearly as much as the gross national product of Denmark.

According to 2004 data, the five infectious diseases that kill the most people every year are:

  • Various forms of pulmonary disease: 4,000,000 deaths
  • AIDS: 2,800,000 deaths
  • Diarrhoea: 1,800,000 deaths
  • Tuberculosis: 1,600,000 deaths
  • Malaria: 1,600,000 deaths

The list goes on accounting for 15 million deaths a year. 85% of the affected live in the Southern Hemisphere, yet they account for only 11% of world spending on health.

In rich countries, 15% of the world's sick spend the remaining 89%.

1) The medicines and diagnostic tools that are desperately needed to diagnose poor people and children properly are not available. They are not being developed.

2) AIDS medicines are not available in developing countries because they are priced out of people's reach in these countries.

3) There were medicines that existed, which were developed to treat tropical diseases. These are no longer produced, even though the need for them still exists. People who need the medicines exist, but as consumers they do not exist. As a market they do not exist.

To buy the DVD or to learn more about this film, please click here:

You can find this page online at http://sacsis.org.za/site/article/100.19.

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