Investigative journalist Nick Dearden digs down into the way we produce our medicines and finds that Big Pharma is failing us, with catastrophic consequences.
Big Pharma is more interested in profit than health. This was made clear as governments rushed to produce vaccines during the Covid pandemic. Behind the much-trumpeted scientific breakthroughs, major companies found new ways of gouging billions from governments in the West while abandoning the Global South. But this is only the latest episode in a long history of financialising medicine—from Purdue’s rapacious marketing of highly addictive OxyContin through Martin Shkreli’s hiking the price of a lifesaving drug to the 4.5 million South Africans needlessly deprived of HIV/AIDS medication.
Since the 1990s, Big Pharma has gone out of its way to protect its property through the patent system. As a result, the business has focused not on researching new medicines but on building monopolies. This system has helped restructure our economy away from invention and production in order to benefit financial markets. It has fundamentally reshaped the relationship between richer and poorer countries, as the access to new medicines and the permission to manufacture them is ruthlessly policed. In response, Dearden offers a pathway to a fairer, safer system for all.
About the Author
Nick Dearden is the director of Global Justice Now. He has been a campaigner against corporate globalisation and for global economic justice for over 20 years, including with War on Want, Amnesty International and Jubilee Debt Campaign. He has been a leading voice in the campaign for a People’s Vaccine and a key organiser against neoliberal trade deals including the now abandoned EU/US trade deal (TTIP). He regularly contributes political analysis to publications including The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Open Democracy, Red Pepper and Soundings journal.
"Nick Dearden's book is about the structural foundations of a global market in life-saving medicines. A market dependent on taxpayer subsidies, but designed to strip both rich and poor governments of the power to improve health. An essential read for those that care about saving lives, and that want the system changed." —Ann Pettifor, author of A Case for the Green New Deal
"brings together detailed investigative research with lessons from the frontlines of the fight for access to medicines. It exposes a global apartheid in which a few mostly white male Pharma bosses make billions while billions of people are left without essential medicines. It exposes how the problem of medical monopolies is not a few rule-breakers but the rules themselves. Most crucially, it shows how the system which put profits over people's lives was man-made, and how through collective action people can unmake it, for everyone's health." —Winnie Byanyima, UNAIDS Executive Director and United Nations Under-Secretary-General
"Carefully researched ... Despite the depressingly familiar story of greedy, rapacious capitalism, this is a hopeful book." —Mike Phipps, Labour Hub
"Authoritative, detailed, practical and written with passion ... inspiring" —Clare Sansom, East Anglia Bylines
"A fascinating account of the evolution of Big Pharma into a profit-hungry monster that destructively distorts a major component of the world's healthcare systems … an enormously useful book." —Counterfire