Time to be totally honest about this. I’m officially diagnosed – have been for most of my life – both epileptic and paranoid schizophrenic. I’m not quite sure about the second diagnosis – my doctor refuses politely to revisit it any more. But I have been – and still am – dependent on expensive medication in order that I might function.
Without it, I would at the very least be having multiple fits every day of my life.
This, therefore, has profoundly shocked me – not only shocked me but revolted and disgusted me:
[In Greece, hundreds] of drugs are in short supply and the situation is getting worse, according to the Greek drug regulator. The government has drawn up a list of more than 50 pharmaceutical companies it accuses of halting or planning to halt supplies because of low prices in the country.
More than 200 medicinal products are affected, including treatments for arthritis, hepatitis C and hypertension, cholesterol-lowering agents, antipsychotics, antibiotics, anaesthetics and immunomodulators used to treat bowel disease.
The Guardian goes on to report that:
Chemists in Athens describe chaotic scenes with desperate customers going from pharmacy to pharmacy to look for prescription drugs that hospitals could no longer dispense.
The government list includes some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, such as Pfizer, Roche, Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca. Pfizer, Roche and Sanofi all said a few products had been withheld. GSK and AstraZeneca denied the claims.
So why are the drugs being withheld? It would appear that traders as well as wider corporate greed are both, once more, at the heart of our problems:
“Companies are ceasing these supplies because Greece is not profitable for them and they are worried that their products will be exported by traders to other richer countries through parallel trade as Greece has the lowest medicine prices in Europe,” said Professor Yannis Tountas, the president of the Greek drug regulator, the National Organisation for Medicines.
I’m truly sorry for the language I’m about to use here but I see no other way of expressing my rage.
On second thoughts, nothing in the English language fully expresses the way I feel right now.
Of course, you’ll be thinking, and I bet you are, Greece is one of those reasonably faraway countries we like to nastily describe as PIGS. Which, in truth, says far more about ourselves than any unfortunate object of our prejudices.
Only, quite interestingly, this acronym has been expanded on two occasions – and can occasionally be now seen even as PIIGGS. Yes. Great Britain is joining the band of merry men and women whose sociopolitical and economic environments do unpleasant things to their peoples in the name of financial probity. Looking for examples? Try this one, again from the Guardian tonight:
The acrimonious debate over soaring energy bills and mounting fuel poverty reignited when British Gas – the biggest energy supplier in the UK – unveiled an 11% increase in profits and its parent group, Centrica, promised a £1.3bn handout to its shareholders just months after pushing through an increase in household bills.
Campaign groups warned that 160,000 children had been dragged into fuel poverty by the actions of the big six energy suppliers since 2010, while trade union bosses accused energy chiefs of “creaming off” profits. Dividends of more than £3.5bn have now been paid out by Centrica over the last five years. Anger was exacerbated by confirmation that Phil Bentley, British Gas’s managing director, will stand down with a combined pay and pension package worth more than £10m.
Curious, isn’t it? After the credit-crunch years, and as all those little shareholders of people’s-capitalism fame found their investments slipping like sand through their once expectant and optimistic fingers, so the big corporate blue chip companies – riding out the storm – have begun to handsomely reward not only their managerialist executives but also their cleverly deep-pocketed gargantuan corporate investors.
As people’s capitalism went into reverse gear, so the corporates learnt to bide their time.
As people’s capitalism lost the support of the people, so the brutal corporations remembered how to keep their resources ever closer to their (war) chests.
And all of the above on the backs of 160,000 children.
All of the above on the backs of the most poverty-stricken.
Brute corporate force, exerted brutally – is this really what we deserve?
Transnational pharmaceutical companies which hold cancer patients, schizophrenics, heart-condition sufferers and people with depression to the kind of ransoms only bastard kings would ever consider.
Energy conglomerates which pile the pain on every winter as they force the poor and elderly to choose between food and fuel.
Where the HELL is your HUMANITY, for Christ’s sake? Where the HELL is your SHAME? Where the HELL did you leave your CHARITY?
Where the HELL do you THINK this will LEAD you in the end?
Or IS this HELL we already inhabit?