Novartis and Johnson & Johnson to deprive Europeans of their right to Health

Novartis-Logo (1)

It was the last day of January that the European Commission decided to send a formal complaint against two pharmaceutical giants, Johnson and Johnson and Novartis, over an illegal secret deal that made European cancer patients suffer while it brought huge profits to the American and Swiss multinational accordingly.

After the meticulous research of DG Competition, that as usually, took around 10 years to bear fruit, it has been uncovered that the two of the three biggest Pharmaceutical companies of the world according to Forbes, were having a small party in Netherlands between 2005 and 2006 at the expense of the Dutch cancer patient. According to DG Comp, what was happening back then is that the Dutch branch of Johnson & Johnson in the Netherlands, Janssen-Cilag, had in its payroll for one year and a half a competitive pharmaceutical company specialized in generics called Sandoz. The latter is a proper known unit of the Swiss company Novartis. So, basically, Johnson and Johnson were paying to Novartis a huge amount of money for 17 months. Isn’t that weird? Competitor companies are supposed to have endless board meetings on how to steal money from each other and not sharing bribes. Was 2005 the year that the management of the two powerful companies lost their minds due to burnout?

The Pay for Delay Deal

Well, think again! These people knew very well what they were doing. We are talking here about the anticompetitive bad practice of Pharmaceuticals called “Pay for Delay” where one brand name is bribing the generic drug competitor in order to delay the release of the cheaper generic drug in the market. In our case the generic drug that was deliberately and illegally delayed to launch in the Dutch market is Fentanyl and it is a drug that is mainly used by cancer patients to relieve pain. In a nutshell, these two companies deprived the Dutch cancer patients from the right to be able to buy a much cheaper drug, so that they can save millions of Euros by preventing a market share loss that a cheaper substitute product in the market would bring.

On the antitrust statement of DG Competition on the 31st of January, Mr. Almunia, the EU Competition Commissioner, said: “If our preliminary conclusions are confirmed, the Dutch subsidiaries of Johnson & Johnson and Novartis entered into a so-called “co-promotion” agreement to avoid competing against each other, depriving users of fentanyl in the Netherlands from access to a cheaper pain killer,”… “The commission is determined to fight undue delays in the market entry of generic medicines so that European citizens have access to affordable health care”. The Basque EU Commissioner says it here very well, but he certainly cannot say anything to the Dutch patients that were not given the alternative of cheap Fentanyl for 17 monhts! Can he?

DG Comp is doing Fundraising

Unfortunately, it seems that this antitrust statement can serve only in two things: a) make impression and b) make the Commission richer. If the Commission wins this battle with the pharmaceutical dinosaurs, which we all hope it will, the only benefit will be a few billion Euros for DG Comp. And of course we live in crisis and Mr. Almunia needs to play the role of the Fundraiser but in the end of the day this will not solve the Pay for Delay syndrome that is expanding like a plague in Europe and is menacing significantly public health. I mean, what is 7 billion euros for Johnson and Johnson to pay as fine compared to the millions or billions that the company has probably saved by exercising this anticompetitive covert technique? And of course, we are talking here about one case that goes back 10 years ago and was uncovered now. Who knows how many other similar incidents we had or we have at this moment in Europe happening at the expense of the European citizen, which will never see the light of publicity? Hence, the culminant question here is: What next? How can the European citizen be sure that this kind of corporate bribing will not be repeated in the future?

The European Parliament had an idea

Only a week after the antitrust statement, a new draft law was voted on the 6th of February in the European Parliament that seems relevant to the topic of this story. The basic concept behind that is that European patients should be able to buy cheaper generic medicines. This is an excellent concept. The European Sting and all Europeans welcome this spirit from the European law makers without a doubt. However, the European Parliament only voted in favour of some new deadlines and transparency standards on pricing and reimbursement of generic medicines. As usually, all this will be addressed to the 27 member states.

Of course, this is something that Europe needed to have anyway, because the rules that are now in action and describe these procedures are almost 25 years old (1989). It is true that the procedures were poorly defined and slow while, as Mrs. Antoniya Parvanova, rapporteur from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), said, sometimes it took a country up to 700 days to make decisions on pricing and reimbursement of medicines. However, why was this matter brought up in the European Parliament now and not before? Is it to take the next step after Mr. Almunia’s antitrust statement?

I am afraid not. The reasons are twofold:

a)      This vote apparently is not going to stop Pharmaceuticals to pay for delay

b)      The draft law was voted on the 6th of February, when on the 4th was the World Cancer Day. The period that the draft law was voted was a period with numerous events aiming at cancer awareness all around the world. Is it a coincidence that the flash addicted European Parliament voted for this in the beginning of February and not in March?

Overall the draft law is a good reform addressed to member states to improve the European health system as a whole but let’s be honest here. Big Pharmaceuticals will be still free out there to sign golden deals under the table with generic competitors, in order to delay the launch of their product so that they keep the prices and profits high for themselves. Who will touch these people? Or better who can touch these people? Is a few billion fine enough to make them stop?

I guess not. The only cure from this cancer is that the patient, the European citizen, is aware of what exactly is happening behind her back and I hope that with this story the Sting has contributed to that.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Military escalation will have ‘serious consequences’ for Yemeni civilians, warns UN Special Envoy

COP21 Breaking News: China has promised to cut emissions from its coal power plants by 60% by 2020

6 surprising side effects of this year’s global heatwave

The needs, challenges and power dynamics of refugee resettlement

OECD sees global growth moderating as uncertainties intensify

G20 LIVE: G20 Antalya Summit in Numbers, 15-16 November 2015

Service and Sacrifice: Guinean peacekeepers make their mark in Mali

“A Junior Enterprise is run only by students.. there are no professors or managers that can help you solve your problems”

At the edge of humanity: refugee healthcare in Greece and the EU

It’s time to fulfil the promises made to women 25 years ago

‘Deteriorating’ human rights in Belarus amounts to ‘wholescale oppression’: UN expert

The Europe we want: Just, Sustainable, Democratic and Inclusive

Low productivity jobs continue to drive employment growth

Ireland’s planning to make its Emerald Isle even greener

What Ghana can teach us about integrating refugees

Can green bonds help us manage climate risk?

AI-powered automation will have an ethnic bias

Obese people more likely to smoke, says new gene research: WHO

Russia and the West to partition Ukraine?

Conflict prevention, mediation: among ‘most important tools’ to reduce human suffering, Guterres tells Security Council

China, forever new adventures

European Court rules that ECB’s OMT program of 2012 is OK; not a word from Germany about returning the Greek 2010 courtesy

Predicting two more years of economic stagnation

Removing sweets from supermarket checkouts could help fight obesity

New UN poverty report reveals ‘vast inequalities’ between countries

Primary Healthcare: Back to the Basics

It’s EU vs. Google for real: the time is now, the case is open

Technology can help us save the planet. But more than anything, we must learn to value nature

South Africa still hasn’t won LGBTQ+ equality. Here are 5 reasons why

Macron crowned king of Europe in Washington D.C.; just a working meeting with Trump for Merkel

The refugee crisis as a young Nigerian doctor sees it

The Eurogroup protects Germany and blames others

Central Asia: the European Union matches political commitment with further concrete support

A Young entrepreneur cries out: “start in Europe, stay in Europe”

The Commission tells Berlin it is legally obliged to help Eurozone out of stagnation

Ensure that widows are ‘not left out or left behind’, UN chief urges on International Day

In the future, no one should be excluded from healthcare

Member States’ compliance with EU law in 2018: efforts are paying off, but improvements still needed

EU Council approves visa-free travel for Ukraine and cement ties with Kiev

Counting spillovers from the fast track EU-US free trade agreement

Emergency meeting called as Ebola spreads to Congolese city – UN health agency

Parliament adopts new rules for short-stay visas

ECB steadily continues monetary easing policy as EU economy gains momentum

Breaking barriers between youth in the new tech era: is there an easy way through?

Main results of EU-Japan summit which took place on 25/04/2019 in Brussels

EU and China to do more in common if the global scene gets worse

3 ways to fight short-termism and relaunch Europe

COP21 Breaking News: Conference of Youth Focuses on Hard Skills to Drive Greater Climate Action

How cultural understanding can help in the cultural shock

Recession: the best argument for growth

This Indian school accepts plastic waste instead of fees

Global health challenges require global medical students

Thousands flee fresh violence in South Sudan, many ‘suffering from trauma’

Dignified health for all who live here

EU-U.S. Trade Talks: European Commission presents draft negotiating mandates

250+ senior claims leaders under one roof, exchanging transformation strategy

South Sudan ‘revitalized’ peace deal must be inclusive, Security Council hears

These artists created a huge open library – and their idea’s gone global

Cameron’s “No Brexit” campaign wins top business support as Tory front breaks

16 foods that are good for you – and the planet

More Stings?

Comments

  1. I believe this is one of the so much important information for me.
    And i’m satisfied studying your article. But wanna
    remark on few basic things, The site style is perfect, the articles is in point of fact excellent : D.
    Just right task, cheers

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s