Multinational Drug Companies’ Scam

In an Al Jazeera opinion piece, the first in a two-part series, Khadija Sharife, a journalist and visiting scholar at the Center for Civil Society, examines how multinational drug companies control markets.

“Drug multinationals claim that U.S. consumers are forced to fund the necessary research and development in order to keep global innovation going. In Australia, Europe, as well as Canada – the source of much prescription drug ‘re-importing’ by US citizens, where drugs sometimes sell for half the going U.S. price – governments ensure pricing structures render patented drugs affordable,” Sharife writes.

“While drug multinationals generate considerable profits from these countries, about 50 percent of global drug industry profits are generated in the U.S. … But the real deception is less the Machiavellian tactics used by Big Pharma to Botox the bottom line than the terrible myth behind the ‘true’ price of innovation: the $1bn pill,”  according to Sharife, who notes, “The ‘$1bn cost’ is derived from a 2003 study [PDF] published in the Journal of Health Economics by Joe DiMasi et al from the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development. The authors and their organisation claimed that the study was unbiased, despite the fact that the Tufts Center is itself some 65 per cent financed by drug companies. Though the findings have been normalised as factual by the media, the facts have long since been debunked by independent specialists.”

Sharife goes on to break down the $1 billion pill claim, discussing “[t]ax secrecy” and profits made from antiretroviral drugs (6/29).

The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.

KFF Headquarters: 185 Berry St., Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94107 | Phone 650-854-9400
Washington Offices and Barbara Jordan Conference Center: 1330 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 | Phone 202-347-5270 | Email Alerts: | |

The independent source for health policy research, polling, and news, KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.