Thursday, 20 August 2020

Owen Smith rejoins Big Pharma , hardly the move of a "socialist"


To many on the Left the news that former MP and failed challenger for the Labour leadership Owen Smith has returned to working for a big pharma firm, according to an update on his LinkedIn profile is as bad as  him joining the Tories.

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In the US .

Large pharmaceutical companies have continually engaged in the strategic accumulation of patents to restrict patient access to more affordable drugs by delaying the entry of generic options into the market. While some of the additional patents represent true incremental innovation, many are deployed strategically to preserve a company's monopoly rights on the original discovery. All in all, the tactics used are not new or useful, they are simply a way for Big Pharma to maintain their drug monopolies and continue charging American consumers more for drugs than they could if they had competition in the market.

According to the Morning Star  Mr Smith, who was instrumental in launching a failed coup against Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership in 2016, has been appointed as executive director of market access and external affairs for drugs firm Bristol Myers Squibb.

Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) is an American pharmaceutical company, headquartered in New York City.[2]

Bristol Myers Squibb manufactures prescription pharmaceuticals and biologics in several therapeutic areas, including cancerHIV/AIDScardiovascular diseasediabeteshepatitisrheumatoid arthritis and psychiatric disorders.

According to Wikipedia The Big Pharma conspiracy theory is a group of conspiracy theories that claim that the medical community in general and pharmaceutical companies in particular, especially large corporations, operate for sinister purposes and against the public good, and that they allegedly cause and worsen a wide range of diseases.

However the article does seem to favour the view that it is just a conspiracy.

Mr Smith’s profile on the popular employment networking site also lists his bid for the Labour leadership as part of his political past.

Mr Corbyn took 62 per cent of the vote against Mr Smith and remained leader for four more years.

Before being elected to Parliament in 2010 to represent Pontypridd, Mr Smith was a lobbyist and director for pharma giant Pfizer before moving on to become a director at scandal-hit drugs firm Amgen.

While at Pfizer he oversaw a controversial deal in which the firm appointed Alliance-Unichem as its sole distributor in Britain — bypassing wholesalers in a “direct-to-pharmacy” deal that removed opportunities for cost-cutting competition.

Back in  2016 whilst still an MP Owen Smith called on ministers to “improve incentives” for pharmaceutical companies and warned that the use of cheaper non-patent drugs by the NHS and elsewhere would affect the industry when he first became a Labour MP.

The then  leadership candidate, who worked as a drug company lobbyist before being elected to parliament, spoke in a parliamentary debate about epilepsy in 2010, warning that the government should be careful about “generic substitution of drugs” in treating that condition or in any other market in medicine.

Smith worked for Amgen as its chief lobbyist in the UK for two years before becoming MP for Pontypridd. Before that he was a lobbyist for US drug firm Pfizer from 2005.

“We must be careful about generic substitution of epilepsy drugs. I know that many sufferers agree with that. Another point is that genericisation of a market in medicines leads to changes in the economic incentives for research and development companies to produce them. There clearly are not incentives for companies to produce new epilepsy drugs,” Smith said in the debate in October 2010.

Mr Smith also argued for the interests of big pharma while an MP. In a parliamentary debate in 2010 he warned that the government must be “careful” about advocating for certain generic drugs, which are used to save the NHS money.

As we face Brexit which will see demands from US Big Pharma , to accept the  inflated prices for drugs  

The average price of insulin nearly tripled between 2002 and 2013 in the United States, according to an American Diabetes Association study. Yet other countries pay significantly less. In fact, Americans pay more than 10 times as much for insulin as Canadians do, according to a commentary published in the Nov. 7 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"Insulin is a flashpoint in the drug-pricing debate, and it's still an ongoing issue. It's a relatively unique product that will require special solutions because so many people rely on it to ensure they can live day to day," said commentary co-author Dr. Aaron Kesselheim, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

The current costs would no doubt disappoint Canadian scientist Banting. In the 1920s he and his team members sold the patent for insulin to the University of Toronto for $1 each. They felt that insulin was such an important medication that it needed to be affordable, according to the NEJM commentary.

"Insulin does not belong to me, it belongs to the world," Banting once said

It seems a former Labour MP who argued that he was on the Left of the Party ,  will beonh the other side when seek to control greedy Big Pharma.


Arthur Owen said...

What comment could one make?

Arthur Owen said...

After making this comment I noticed an article in this week's Golwg on Harri Webb-he would have an appropriate comment.