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Pharmaceutical industry: bigger pandemic, bigger profit

Amid lies, politics and greed, the interests of large pharmaceutical companies such as Novartis, Roche, Pfizer, Astrazeneca, Roche and Johnson & Johnson come to light, which are in a battle with new biotechnology companies such as Gilead Sciences, Inc to stop Covid-19.

 

Nubia Piqueras Grosso

 

With a capitalisation of close to 100 billion US dollars, Gilead was unknown to the general public until its drug Remdesivir made headlines amid the pandemic and shot the price of this drug from 65 dollars in early 2020 to 83 dollars.

The company, founded in 1987, is a benchmark in the development of antiretroviral drugs to treat patients infected with HIV, hepatitis B or flu; while the centennial Abbott, a U.S. laboratory that entices experts, has a market capitalisation of 170 billion dollars, after appreciating 10%.

For its part, the Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche recently announced that it had developed an antibody test for Covid-19, which triggered the company’s shares to increase by about 2% and allowed it to invoice 57.3 billion euros and achieve a profit of 13.146 million euros in 2019, according to media reports.

This list of highly profitable pharmaceutical companies includes Translate Bio, which is in search of an effective cure thanks to genes; Akers Biosciences, the firm that shot up 344% after announcing a breakthrough on the path to creating a Covid-19 vaccine when, together with Premas Biotech, it managed to successfully clone all the coronavirus antigens that were selected as candidates for the creation of a vaccine.

French company Sanofi also appears, responsible for producing hydroxychloroquine, which allied with other firms such as Translate Bio and British giant GSK in the war against the pandemic and with the aim to find a vaccine.

They are joined by the US firm Pfizer, which is attacking Covid-19 from different angles, including with an injectable thanks to an alliance with German company BioNTech.

Novacyt, a small company that was catapulted in the stock market by the pandemic with the announcement of a molecular test to diagnose the new coronavirus.

Then there is Spanish company Grifols, which specialises in blood products and is trying to compete with an anti-coronavirus plasma for cured patients.

It is worth nothing that some of these firms have been able to breathe again thanks to the pandemic, given that the statistics reflect economic losses and deficits accumulated over years.

This is the case of Akers Biosciences, whose revenues fell 5% in 2019; however, this year it has already seen a 30% rise.

There is no doubt that the health business and the pharmaceutical industry is the third largest economic sector in the world, with a market of 1.3 billion dollars, behind arms and drug trafficking.

And in the United States, its profits are four times higher than for the remaining industrial sectors.

So much so, that US corporations not only received over 8.3 billion dollars to develop the vaccine against the new coronavirus, they also have the authority to set the price and control its distribution, which means that their commercial interests are placed before people’s health. However, the Russian vaccine Sputnik V is the thorn in their side. After its announcement, orders came in from 20 countries and caused a drop in the shares of companies such as Pfizer (0.8%), Novavax (7.7%) and Moderna (2.5%), according to specialised press reports.

It is worth noting that these three corporations appear on the list of the World Health Organization as creators of a vaccine against Covid-19 which is in phase three of clinical trials, during which the safety and efficacy of the product are evaluated.

For now, the Russians announced that they will begin mass voluntary vaccination as of 1 October, while the media recently revealed that the vaccine created by the Moderna corporation will not be ready before November 3 as expected by the US President Donald Trump, but by the beginning of 2021. (PL)

(Translation by Lucy Daghorn – Email: lucy.daghorn@gmail.com) Photos: Pixabay

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