Novartis - it's time to stop the bullying.
protesters outside novartis hq
Image: David Mirzoeff/Global Justice
Pharmaceutical company Novartis has been exposed for using intimidating, underhand and illegal tactics to force the Colombian and Greek governments to pay extortionate drug prices. Their threats, bribery and lies show the lengths they have been prepared to go to pressure governments to pay sky high prices for their medicines.
Today, on the day of Novartis’ AGM, we are joining forces with ten other organisations to call on the new CEO of Novartis not to repeat the bullying tactics of his predecessor.
At the start of February 2018 we learnt that the then CEO of Novartis had written to the Colombian Presidency to try to stop the government from using legal tools at their disposal to make a new leukemia drug available. The drug, called Glivec, was previously sold by Novartis at £10,000 per year - twice the average annual income of Colombians.
The Colombian government, faced with the option of paying vast amounts of money for this drug or not being able to give people access to it at all, were considering using a compulsory licence. This is a legal tool where a government can suspend a company’s patent (or monopoly) on a drug allowing the government to access an affordable, generic version of the medicine. This move should not be controversial - it forms part of the World Trade Organisation rules to protect public health.
Not only did Novartis write to Colombian authorities on multiple occasions to threaten them against introducing a crown use licence but, seemingly after pressure from the US pharmaceutical group PhRMA, of which Novartis is a key member, the US trade representative has now written to the Colombia government warning them that “key stakeholders remain dissatisfied” with Colombia’s government policies.
Novartis’ actions are absolutely outrageous - they are recklessly pursuing their own profit with a complete disregard for people’s health.
What’s more, in Greece Novartis are alleged to have paid bribes to senior politicians in order to gain favourable access to the Greek market and to keep their medicine prices high. It seems their moral compass is currently facing the wrong way - and we’re calling on them to put it right.
On the day of Novartis’ AGM, Just Treatment is joining forces with ten other organisations to call on the new Novartis CEO to commit to ditching these dirty tactics and to stop threatening governments who try to use legal mechanisms to lower drug prices. You can read the letter here, and sign the petition on the Global Justice Now website. It’s completely unacceptable that Novartis should be using threats, bribes and lies to stop governments taking action to protect patients from their profiteering - and today we’re taking that message right to their CEO.