Misc 21/01/2021

Thank you, evil pharmaceuticals

Do we really think that someone connected with the public sector would have discovered the vaccine in record time?

Xavier Roig
3 min
Un camió refrigerat de Pfizer abandona la planta de Puurs, a Bèlgica, on s'està produInt la vacuna. Els primers transports cap al Regne Unit van sortir-ne aquest dijous

A few weeks ago, ARA published an interview with Mr Germán Velásquez. In fact, I don't know much about the activities of this gentleman, but if what the interview says is true, we certainly differ in the overall conception of the world around us. The headline that headed his interview ("The main interest of the pharmaceutical industry is its shareholders; public health comes second" [sic]) denoted a very characteristic populism. The kind of populism that is quickly identified because it always looks for culprits beyond our borders - above all in the evil capitalist West.

I will start with this statement, the one that led the interview: "The pharmaceutical companies pursue their shareholders' interests". And I ask myself: whose interests should they pursue, then? In a market economy, such as the one we live in, companies provide services to people while with their shareholders' interest in mind. All at once. It's not incompatible. The owner of a pharmacy provides a public service trying to make money. Microsoft's shareholders want this company to make a profit. The civil servant - who, by the way, is also a shareholder insofar as he considers that his post is his property - wants the Treasury to collect taxes so that he can get his salary - and, if possible, to raise it by 0.9%. The pharmaceutical companies are investing many millions on research, too. Sometimes they get it right and sometimes they don't. In general, they are right more often than not, thank God - fortunately for their shareholders... and us. Otherwise the shelves of the pharmacies would be empty and Mr Velasquez, whenever he had a headache, would have to look for home remedies - as our grandparents did when life expectancy was fifty years.

Mr Velasquez is complaining about the patents. He says that research into covid-19 vaccines has received injections of public money to speed up research. He talks about billions and says the patents will be taken by the pharmaceutical companies. He may be right. But I ask you: is there an alternative? Who do you think should be incentivised? Do you really think that someone connected with the public sector would have discovered the vaccine in the record time it took, even if they had injected "billions"? Do you really think so? This utopia would better not be used as a ploy. As a good global public organisation official, Mr Velasquez does not seem to intend to look into issues all the way through. Years ago I had to negotiate a contract to provide some technology services to the UN. I got to know it a little bit on the inside, even had several meetings at the offices in the East River building. I've never seen an organisation so populated with people who are used to being paid too much, working too little and under no control, with no one to whom they are accountable. The UN and especially the agencies that hang from it (such as the WHO, where Mr Velasquez worked) need to be thoroughly restructured. They are highly ineffective and their leaders are appointed to cover the politically correct quota that developed countries pay to politicians in underdeveloped countries. It sounds crude, but that is how I see it. And anyone who finds me scarcely charitable should look at the Spanish elements that end up there from time to time. Therefore, if anyone has not and will not get us out of this crisis, it is the WHO. And if we know someone who will not discover any vaccines we can be sure it will be the public sector.

The pharmaceutical industry has saved many lives because they want to make money. Just like the fishmongers at the market where we buy the cod gives us so much joy with their damned vice of wanting to make money. In today's Catalonia, it seems to have become a crime to try to make a profit. And this state of mind is leading us to the most thunderous decadence.

If what the interview wanted to show is that in the pharmaceutical companies there are people who are interested in evil and very connected to politicians, he is right - in the specific case of the pharmaceutical companies we had already been hammered by Sister Forcades-. Just like there are in the automobile industry. And in construction companies that make roundabouts in towns. Or in newspapers that suck up to power and collect subsidies to lie and destroy democracy. Even, if we look at the list of members of The South Centre, where Mr Velasquez works, I am sure that there are evil and corrupt people among those who finance this organisation. And it is logical that Mr Velasquez does not denounce them. After all, he has to look after the interests of its shareholders.