AstraZeneca May be Able to Help?

When I was reading the article by Ecks all I could think of are pharmaceutical commercials on television, more specifically the AstraZeneca commercials that state: “if you have trouble affording your medications AstraZeneca may be able to help”.  This is largely because prescription medications are astronomically expensive.  The idea that one can be a good corporate citizen in the pharmaceutical industry by giving access to prescription medication to those who do not have the means to afford it otherwise (Ecks 166) is disturbing and misleading. This practice allows drug companies to be able to say that they are ensuring that the poorest members of society have access to affordable medication but at the same time they are making their profits by ensuring that this cost is covered by their wealthier patrons.

What is doubly interesting about Ecks’ article is that it highlights the relationship between Novartis and one of its subsidiary companies, Sandoz.  Ecks states that Sandoz is the “world’s second-largest manufacturer of generics” (Ecks 175); this information is important as it is because of Sandoz that several hospitals suffered severe medication shortages because of production scale backs in the summer of 2012.  The medication shortage caused surgeries to be cancelled and for drug rationing on a large scale.  With a major drug name and a generic manufacturer teamed together, this seems like the perfect storm to limit access to affordable generics and create patents for name brand medications that last a generation.

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