From our Readers: Super-exploitation of workers in Pharma industry

Dear Editor

I am writing in response to the important and topical article entitled `Pharmaceutical Industry and the Super-Exploitation of Workers’ dated 14-10-2020 and carried on the internet edition of MEL.  It is an important piece of educational writing that shows how the growth of specific industries takes place under the conditions of capitalism, and serves as an example of such phenomena.

The article highlights the following points:

* that India is now the `pharmacy of the world’ with 20% of the global market share of generic medicines,

* that generic medicines are the same chemical substance as those protected by patents, and Indian manufacturers supply substantial fractions to markets in Britain and US, for example, and that there are four pharmaceutical giants in India, namely, Sun Pharma, Lupin, Cipla and Dr Reddy’s Laboratories,

* that the sector supplies 50% of the world’s vaccines, with the Serum Institute of India is the world’s largest producer, which also aims to be the biggest supplier for Covid vaccine,

* that there are a large number of very big companies, and thousands of small and medium industries and over ten thousand plants across the country, with a wide spectrum of sizes of companies,

* that there are 8 lakh workers in the industry whose conditions of life are very bad, with large numbers of contract workers who are not paid their wages properly, and that many have been adversely affected by the lockdowns, and that medical representatives are working with atrocious conditions,

* that the pharma industry is not interested in any permanent cures, but rather is interested in having a market for continuous consumption and in raking in profits,

* that changes in patent laws allowed Indian corporations to flourish first domestically and later turned their attention to the export market, and despite WTO restrictions, the generic medicines’ market proved to be a huge money spinner for the industry.

The article concludes that despite all this Indian people do not have access to good medicines.  I would like to add that access to medical care is a basic human right and we should all strive to work for it.

Sincerely,
Narayan
Bangalore

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