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From The Socialist newspaper, 18 September 2018
Big drugs companies dodge £3 billion in tax - nationalise them to fund our health services
photo Creative Commons (Click to enlarge)
Beth Webster, nurse, Cardiff Socialist Party
Big pharmaceutical companies may be dodging up to £3 billion in tax, contributing to crises in health systems worldwide, including our NHS.
A report released by Oxfam exposes the colossal tax avoidance of the world's biggest drug companies - Johnson and Johnson, Abbott, Merck, and Pfizer - between 2013 and 2015. These companies appear to be moving profits to tax havens.
This is particularly devastating for neocolonial countries, with companies infamously hiking prices and insisting on patents - actions which prevent treatment of diseases like malaria and HIV/Aids which cause millions of deaths each year. With our own NHS in deepening crisis, the UK has lost around £124 million in tax in the three years studied alone.
Buying drugs from these companies costs the NHS around £1 billion a year, a massive proportion of its £4.3 billion deficit. Essential medicines are often unavailable on the NHS due to their exorbitant cost. Until last year, breast cancer drug Palbociclib was unavailable as Pfizer wanted to charge around £140 a pill.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock was recently forced to criticise pharma-company Vertex's charge of £104,000 a person for a cystic fibrosis drug. Hancock only appealed to big businesses to pay a fair amount of tax as otherwise the market economy is "hard to defend".
The market economy, a system that prioritises private wealth over public health, cannot be defended. The Tories and other capitalist governments have no intention of genuinely challenging big pharma. They would rather raise taxes on ordinary people and slash health spending than challenge big business domination.
As Oxfam says, research and development of drugs should be driven by health need, not profit. But this would only be possible if the drug companies were taken out of the hands of the rich and nationalised under democratic working class control and management.
They should then be integrated into fully funded, nationalised public health systems like the NHS, run by health workers and communities.
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In The Socialist 18 September 2018:
Labour Party conference
Blairites must go
The struggle to transform Labour
Momentum's 'The World Transformed' blocks discussion on Liverpool council struggle
Socialist Party news and analysis
Big drugs companies dodge £3 billion pounds in tax
250,000 families in "non-decent" homes
Bezos housing hypocrisy
Rail rip-off reversal
What we saw
International socialist news and analysis
South Africa: new workers' formations herald fightback against Ramaphosa's capitalist agenda
Catalonia: 'Diada' 2018 an immense show of strength for republic
Mobilise mass student fightback
Socialist Students campaigns at Hull freshers fair
Workplace news and analysis
POA walkout over government failure to make prisons safe
RMT strikers ready to up the ante over rail safety
University pay ballot: vote yes for strike action!
Birmingham home carers' protest demo
York health workers say no to privatisation
Liverpool airport workers demand decent pay
Leicester UCU fights redundancies
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Join our Socialist sales drive for issue 1011
March to save threatened Liverpool Women's Hospital
Socialists and campaigners protest Leicester NHS cuts
Hundreds of Newcastle United fans attend Mike Ashley Out meeting
Huddersfield Socialist Party opposes racist EDL
Lewisham: binning the rates rise
How Irish strikers fought apartheid - and establishment anti-apartheid leadership
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