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Articles on Big Pharma

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COVID-19 patients receive oxygen as they lie in their beds in the intensive care unit of a hospital in Machakos, Kenya, in August 2021. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga)

Enduring colonialism has made it harder to end the COVID-19 pandemic

A major lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic is the need to decolonize transnational governance so that the world is better able to handle both future and current global crises.
OxyContin, an opioid drug heavily marketed by Purdue Pharma, is associated with billions of dollars of health-care costs in Canada related to the opioid crisis. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

$150M is not enough: Canada’s proposed Purdue Pharma settlement for opioid damages is paltry and won’t prevent future crises

The Purdue Pharma settlement is paltry compared to costs of the opioid crisis. Without major changes to pharma industry regulation, there is little reason to think a similar crisis won’t occur again.
Global Justice campaigners in London stand by fake coffins to highlight global COVID-19 deaths. If pharma companies waived intellectual property rights, it would be easier for low- and middle-income countries to access COVID-19 vaccines. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

We still need a vaccine patent waiver, but not the one on offer at the World Trade Organization meeting

Waiving patent rights on COVID-19 vaccines and drugs is still crucial to ensure access globally, but the waiver on the table at the June World Trade Organization meeting doesn’t do the job.
From thalidomide to Viagra, drug repurposing salvaged failed treatments by giving them new targets. smartboy10/DigitalVision Vectors via Getty Images

Repurposing generic drugs can reduce time and cost to develop new treatments – but low profitability remains a barrier

Drug repurposing can redeem failed treatments and squeeze out new uses from others. But many pharmaceutical companies are hesitant to retool existing drugs without a high return on investment.
Changes to the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board regulations, which are intended to help lower drug costs in Canada, were originally scheduled to take effect in July 2020. (Shutterstock)

Lower drug prices are a priority for Canadians, but not for the federal government

Changes to Canada’s Patented Medicine Prices Review Board regulations have been postponed for a fourth time in two years as Canadians continue to pay some of the highest drug prices in the world.
Generic drug names are assigned at the global level by the World Health Organization in conjunction with national naming authorities. (Shutterstock)

Generic drug names provide information for doctors, so why is Health Canada promoting the use of pharma brand names?

Generic drug names are often long, but they can tell doctors what type of medicine it is and how it works. But it’s brand names that appear first and most prominently in Health Canada materials.
The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada sits ready for use at The Michener Institute in Toronto in mid-December 2020, less than a year from when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Big Pharma’s COVID-19 reputation boost may not last — here’s why

If Big Pharma wants to achieve the ultimate image makeover, it must capitalize on the current public good will about its COVID-19 vaccines by prioritizing socially responsible practices.
Until the late 19th century, patenting medicines was considered by some as controversial and even unethical. S. Vannini/De Agostini Editorial via Getty Images

The US drug industry used to oppose patents – what changed?

The pharmaceutical industry overall has been deeply opposed to waiving COVID-19 vaccine patents, but a historian of the industry explains that drug companies once opposed patents altogether.
A woman who said she’s a medical worker who works directly with COVID-19 patients is stopped by police outside of the public Rebagliati Hospital in Lima, Peru, in February 2021. She complained that some people getting vaccinated don’t work directly with COVID-19 patients. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

Peru’s COVID-19 vaccine scandal shows the shady deals made with pharma companies

A vaccination queue-jumping scandal in Peru has caused a massive uproar in the South American country. It could also be a wake-up call for all nations.
The pharmaceutical industry opposes the suspension of intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, and no pharma companies have yet contributed to the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool. (Shutterstock)

Can a pharma company change? Profit, not altruism, motivates COVID-19 vaccine development

We should applaud drug companies for developing COVID-19 vaccines in record time, but let’s not be under any illusion about the profits that are motivating them.
Over 90 per cent of Canadian doctors see pharmaceutical sales representatives. (Shutterstock)

Guidelines governing Canadian doctors’ relationships with pharma companies under review

Patients have a stake in the relationship between doctors and pharmaceutical companies, so the CMA’s current review of its guidelines for doctor/pharma interactions is everybody’s business.

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