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The whole world is searching for suitable vaccine against Corona. A lot of prestige is at stake, and of course a lot of money. And there are strong accusations against the pharmaceutical giants.
It is a worldwide race against time. Corona gives science a run for its money. There are already successes with drugs. Remdesivir has won the first stage (there are also recent studies showing that the drug dexamethasone helps in seriously ill patients). The Remdesivir drug from the US group Gilead is approved for the European market. According to exprect,, the drug would cost up to 5000 euros per unit.
“As always, the pharmaceutical industry will be the big winner,” says Peter C. Gøtzsche, a physician from Denmark. The professor once worked as a researcher for the pharmaceutical industry and is now considered one of its most fierce critics. He causes a stir with books like “Deadly Medicine and Organized Crime”. The central accusation is that the studies are being embellished in order to maximize profits, and that corruption is taking place on a large scale. Corona is also about making money. “There’s always talk of up to two billion before a drug goes on the market. That’s how you justify horrendous prices. And the costs are much lower,” says Gøtzsche.
The big question is: How much should it cost?
Alexander Herzog, Secretary General of Pharmig (Austrian Pharmaceutical Industry Association), defends himself against such accusations. “Of course, we too are profit-oriented. We invest a lot. We’re like Apple or Tesla. Covid-19 but won’t bring anyone big business. The point here is to help as quickly as possible.” One could not afford to generate the big profits here. “Public pressure is too great for that. It’s more about prestige.” Moreover, the investment in Corona funds was an economic venture. “There have been too few studies with Remdesivir as well. This can go wrong. It usually takes up to twelve years before a drug is ready for the market. Corona must be quicker.”
What does the particularly fast company Gilead say about the price question that the physician from Denmark poses? “At present, we are concentrating on providing the drug free of charge. If it proves to be safe and effective, we are committed to making this medicine available and affordable worldwide. Affordable is a volatile term. Health economist Christian Köck knows this too. He sees the pharmaceutical giants as overpowering opponents. “They use extortionate methods against states. They determine the prices, which often bring far more than a reasonable profit.” There is also intensive lobbying in ministries. Köck’s solution: “The EU with its 500 million inhabitants must work together to counteract the corporations. Little Austria alone has no chance.”