Jamie Love, who has written and lobbied obsessively about how pharmaceutical IP is the single barrier to making medicines affordable worldwide threw yet another bomb today from his blog at huffingtonpost.com. This time, in a broadside tamely entitled “Terrorism Pfizer-Style” Love accuses Pfizer of killing Filipinos by suing to block the illegal production of a generic version of Norvasc, Pfizer’s top selling blood pressure drug. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-love/terrorism-pfizer-style_b_18290.html?view=print
Norvasc is expensive in the Philippines relative to prices in Pakistan and India for example which have robust — and illegal — generic markets. But the wholesale and retail markup on Norvasc in the Philippines is also nearly 100 percent of the manufacturer price according to the WHO, a fact that Love leaves out in his attack. He also ignores the fact that Pfizer offers a 30 percent discount to people who sign up for their discount plan and does not object to a legitimate licensee making a generic version.
Affordability of medicines is a big problem worldwide. But IP is not the main barrier more often than not. Where it is, companies and countries can come together to work out innovative solutions that protect innovation and limit piracy. Most essential drugs are already generic. Markups, taxes and tariffs matter. And getting medicines to people even when they are free (as inthe case of measles and TB drugs) is often difficult even when the governments are not corrupt or engaged in war. For Love to call Pfizer a terrorist reflects immaturity at the least. At the worst, it reflects a lack of sensitivity to those Filipinos that have been slaughtered by the Abu Sayyaf Group and other militant Islamic groups. Such statements, along with the willingness to ignore all the facts, are yet more reasons to not afford Jamie Love the credibility he constantly craves.