October 9, 2008

Capitalism Can’t Help Showing Its Ass These Days

I hadn’t been to an AIDS demonstration so far this year (my bad) but the prerecorded announcement from the ACT-UP phone tree last night haunted my sleep and got me out of bed and headed for midtown this morning. The demo here in NYC was part of an international week of actions (including Arizona, Thailand, France, Switzerland and more) targetting pharmaceutical giant Roche. The demand was simple: Roche must negotiate with the South Korean government to lower prices on bulk orders of lifesaving AIDS drug Fuzeon for its national healthcare system.

What got me going was hearing the quote from Urs Fluekiger, marketing director for Roche Korea, who explained the company’s refusal to budge on their $22,000 price tag for one patient/year of this vital medication:

We do not do business for saving lives but for making money. Saving lives is none of our business.

I thought to myself, okay, that tears it. It’s getting harder and harder to find anyone saying a kind word about good old freemarket capitalism, what with the mounting wreckage that is the global economy these days and the hurt that will be put on everyday working people here in the US and around the world in order to rescue the bloodsuckers who have benefited from this system.

There’s every reason we should make a point of kicking ‘em while they’re down.

So I did my little bit today, leafleting at a characteristically lively and imaginative action by ACT-UP’s New York and Philly locals and other AIDS groups. Scores of people grabbed fliers as they rushed to work in the skyscraper housing LifeBrands, Inc., the ad agency that Roche employs to promote Fuzeon.

There’s plenty more detail to deepen your rage at Roche--how they bought out the company that was given the rights to this drug by the government, which sponsored the original research, how their executives have shut down all AIDS and HIV research, how their profits last year exceeded 30%. But that one quote tells the story, about Roche and about the whole system they have made themselves such a success in.

We do not do business for saving lives but for making money. Saving lives is none of our business.


Anonymous said...

Refreshingly honest statement, it's not often any capitalist admits that.

Low-life motherfuckers.

(Can we speak plainly like that on a blog? Whatever, edit or delete if you want, Jimmie.)

bendygirl said...

Wow, it's like their channeling Dick E Dauch of American Axle and the Executives of Kongsberg Automotive. For them, employees are a commodity to be cut in order to obtain bigger profits. So Kongsberg busses in scabs in Van Wert Ohio because they dno't want to pay $9.50 an hour and American Axle refuses to negotiate with the UAW for most of the 11 week strike.

And don't get me started on Boeing and their refusal to negotiate with the IAM. They actually OFFERED to eliminate PENSIONS for widows (or widowers and families) when a worker dies while employed! Billions in profits for the execs, but nothing for anyone else.

Greed must be contained because markets can't control themselves., and when they do, they screw the worker and they screw the folks who need medication. Yep, they sure are showing their asses!!