Monday, April 15, 2019

Sounds Like Corporate Extortion To Me

Given all of the revelations about how the Liberals legislated Deferred Prosecutions with SNC-Lavalin expressly in mind, it is perhaps no surprise that Big Pharma is now attempting to flex its muscles to prevent legislation that would benefit all Canadians. Andy Blatchford reports the following:
Brand-name drug companies could put off introducing new medicine in Canada and scale back research here if the country makes a major shift to cheaper generic alternatives under a national pharmacare plan, according to an internal federal analysis.

The concerns were included last year in a briefing document for federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau that explored the feasibility and costs of a pharmacare program.
For those who pay obeisance to corporate power, the document was sobering:
... the briefing note to Morneau said national pharmacare could influence the revenues of drug companies in several ways. Among the possibilities, it said a shift in favour of more generic drugs, mass-produced after patent protections for new medications expire, could lower costs.

But that could come with a cost for patients.

“For example, brand-name pharmaceutical companies may respond to a broad shift to generic drugs by delaying the introduction of new drugs in the Canadian market or by reducing the R&D activities that they undertake in the country,” said the analysis, labelled “secret,” which was obtained by The Canadian Press under access-to-information law.
To use the old cliché, Big Pharma is threatening to hold Canadians hostage should legislation beneficial to them emerge:
“Innovative Medicines Canada, which represents pharmaceutical patent holders, has warned that a national pharmacare program focused on cost containment may result in reduced access to medicines for Canadians.”
Such a threat, if followed through, would be part of larger pattern of pharma's failure on behalf of Canadians.
The briefing to Morneau said research and development investments by pharma companies in Canada already “significantly lag” spending in other countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, a group of 34 countries with advanced economies.

“Since 2003, industry investment in R&D has been less than 10 per cent of sales — the target that the pharmaceutical industry committed to in exchange for more favourable patent terms in Canada,” said the briefing to Morneau.
Like a predatory beast smelling blood, Big Pharma senses it has a Canadian government captured between its paws.

Time for us to show that we are not such easy pickings after all.


  1. When the Liberals introduced the deferred prosecution option the subtext, still used by the government's defenders, was that "everyone else is doing it." That was used to avoid any discussion of whether such agreements are necessary or the collateral costs they carry for our governments and our society.

    It's part of early development for us to go to our parent and ask permission to do something harebrained on the strength of "all the other kids are doing it," to which the parent would respond with the pat, "does that mean if all the other kids were to throw themselves off the bridge I should let you do it too?"

    The inherent danger of these DPAs is that, over time, they can normalize, almost legitimize, bad or even harmful conduct. It becomes a "go ahead, just don't get caught" mentality. Even then the transgressor is usually let off upon coughing up the "filthy lucre" pocketed in the otherwise criminal deal.

    We've seen in the American experience how normal these deals between the powerful interests and governments can become and how, over time, the penalties exacted can become a pretty modest percentage of the illicit take. Once the penalties are low enough it can actually encourage the sector to pursue the once criminal conduct.

    The ultimate victim of this, there's no other word for it but "collusion," is the public interest.

    1. Somehow, Mound, public interest and the corporate interest have been conflated. That is certainly what Trudeau has tried to do to defend his unwholesome efforts to get SNC-Lavalin off the hook. The same tactic is clearly being used by Big Pharma here: its health is being conflated with Canadians' health and economic well-being.

      I am absolutely disgusted.

    2. It's no coincidence that there's always a shake down to it. Lavalin threatens to bugger off to the States. Big Pharma threatens to withhold new products from the Canadian market. Roosevelt and the progressives would have fought back. Governments today - Liberal, Conservative, even NDP instead accommodate and subordinate the nation to the narrow special interest.

  2. Please don't link to the Toronto Star. I'm not going to subscribe to their site. The CTV is carrying this story as well:

    1. Thanks for the link, Anon, but The Star is my go-to paper;I subscribe to it, and support its journalism.