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Pharmaceutical companies take advantage of their dominant position to set exorbitant prices for certain treatments.

First Lines Television /

Drug production is concentrated among a few companies. These would dictate their prices and sometimes hide the truth …

They are nicknamed the “Big Pharma”: alone, the Swiss Novartis and Roche, the Americans Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, and the French Sanofi control most of the manufacture of drugs in the world. To maintain their monopoly, these large laboratories would minimize, or even hide, certain undesirable effects caused by their products. In Europe, Depakine, an antiepileptic drug responsible for birth defects and neurodevelopmental disorders in children exposed in utero, is at the heart of a resounding scandal.

Suspected of having delayed alerting health authorities and consumers to these well-known risks, Sanofi was indicted for “aggravated deception”, “unintentional injury” and “involuntary homicide”. In the United States, where the opioid crisis is wreaking havoc (more than 100 deaths per day), multinational pharmaceutical companies are accused of having encouraged the mass prescription of these painkillers while concealing their highly addictive nature. In 2019, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $ 572 million to the state of Oklahoma for endangering the lives of its citizens. While the pharmaceutical industry largely benefits from innovations in public research, drug prices are soaring: billed $ 84,000 in the United States, where pricing is not framed, hepatitis C treatment costs $ 24 000 € in France, when the new gene therapy against leukemia marketed by Novartis is close to 300 000 €.

At a time when the fight against Covid-19 is fueling pharmaceutical behemoths, Luc Hermann and Claire Lasko shed light on the new paradigm at work in the sector, between concentration, financialization and the frantic race for profits.

Using documented examples and numerous testimonies, their investigation sheds light on the disproportionate power of Big Pharma, the threats they pose to public health systems, but also the outbursts of resistance they arouse.

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