Reality Check : India`s Healthcare

Had by the

Hustlers , Again

Heh , heh . How sweetly we have been had , and all within 20–25 years. Business newspapers of the nation ( Economic Times on 24th May and Business Line on 28th May, 2010) have sounded the alarm that already pharmaceutical Trans National Companies ( TNCs) control nearly 50 % of India`s medicines` market of around Rs.47,000 crores.

It is almost back to the bad old days of 1960s/1970s when they had 75%. This, when India is supposed to be on the threshold of becoming a global power, as per the propaganda of Manmohanist globalisation!

Well, well .

How did this come about? Through inorganic growth of TNCs gobbling up Indian pharma companies by mergers & acquisitions. The other day US-based Abbot Laboratories acquired Piramal Healthcare; a few months back Japan`s Daiichi Sankyo bought Ranbaxy Laboratories; this has been going on for some time. Today 3 out of 5 top pharma companies are TNCs. On the other hand the New Era Indian pharma companies tom–tommed by manmohanists while succumbing to product-patents` regime in WTO, like Dr. Reddy`s Laboratories, Ranbaxy, Sun Pharma, etc which were proudly filing their own patents have lost most of their patent claims in foreign lawsuits over the last 10 years.Who is surprised ?

Lawsuits–things done by lawyers, courts, judges, etc–we know well .

Okay , what is the inside story ? Earlier the big market of India could not be touched by TNCs because in 1971 Indira Gandhi–the grandmother of Rahul Gandhi–had made process- patent as India`s governing law in this industry, so that India- made drugs were much cheaper. In 1990s manmohanism switched to products-patent law, promising all the WTO goodies, and joined something called “international community”. The slogan was let-the-best-man(company)-win. Initially Ranbaxy, Dr. Reddy`s, etc seemed to be winning on “merits”, even in USA and Europe. Other Indian companies, being second rate, were expected to be content with making and selling de-patented medicines as generic drugs. Fine.

But it so turns out that a big bunch of lucrative product-patents worth US$70 billion is expiring patency by 2013, and these should by the book then fall to the second rate Indian companies to exploit as generic drugs. The market is too large. And tempting. TNCs want this too for themselves. So, how ? Lo and behold, it amazingly turns out that WTO rules are conveniently sweet on market-access by mergers & acquisitions!

Thus were the two ends of the trap sprung. During patency:TNCs, and during off-patency: TNCs. Heads I win, tails you lose. And in the next 5-7 years the next bunch of TNC patents will be in place; the merry-go-round will start all over again. Jai Ho.

So what , the believers will say since there is nothing beyond belief, all this is just blind market forces–no rigging . The point of course is–and always has been–that the Abbots, etc will not sell medicines at prices which Piramal did. So, poor Indians will have to pay more. The diehards will say, no, we have price-controls, laws, Rules in place for that sort of thing. Belief! Despite having seen how the politicians, judges, policemen, bureaucrats  running all the nations’ rules since 1947?

Inorganic growth. Strange language – of  these strange times.

Is it only a pharma story? Lest you are by now beginning to be moved by even larger forebodings, it will be said: look it is case to case–see how Tata bought Corus, Mittals and Jindals bought something or the other. It is all fair game. The book says you win some, you lose some.

Well , history is tough. If you ignore it , it will repeat itself. The firangis have never gone by the book, any book. What is happening now was scripted in 1970s–after the “oil-shock” given to the firangis by the Arab OPEC . A script of Neo-Habsburgism was written: Planet Earth is a lifeboat meant for only a few; Africa is to be depopulated and otherwise degraded back to mineral level; socially and environmentally dirty industries are to be shifted to upstarts like Japan, Korea, India, China, etc; weaponry, key materials, instrumentation, and finance are to be in white hands, preferrably anglo-saxon. Amen .

We have just witnessed the pharma act. Others will follow–by the script. India will forever remain on the road to becoming a global power– had it taken another road it might have actually become something.For those who like big words what is happening is neo-imperialism; for other folks it is hustle.


About ctaposh

Cartoonist, poet, social activist, development banker, documentary filmmaker, reader of books and realities, ponderer of questions milling around.
This entry was posted in dependent capitalism, Imperialism, reality-check and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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