netcurmudgeon (netcurmudgeon) wrote,

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Oh. My. God.

I was leafing through the current issue of Disaster Recovery Journal this morning. Their cover article is on Avian Flu and integrating preparing for pandemic influenza into your Business Continuity / Disaster Recovery plan. Smack in the middle of that article is a full-page ad by Roche, the makers of Tamiflu.

The ad has the header text "Are Your Employees Covered" over a dark B&W picture shot from behind and above of a couple of suits descending a stone staircase under black umbrellas. Very dreary and boding of disaster. It has a pithy quote from Secy. Michael Leavitt of the Department of Health and Human Services: "Antiviral drugs are an important part of pandemic preparedness." The rest of the ad copy urges executives to purchase and stockpile their own corporate supplies of Tamiflu. It wraps with an appeal to visit their helpful web site

WTF? This is piracy of the most brazen sort. Actually, I'm not sure which criminal label to apply here. We have a company hawking a product that governments say they need for their stockpiles, to corporations so that they can hoard it for their employees. Scare enough executives and you get a land-rush on Tamiflu, driving up prices, and Roche profits hand-over-fist. Profits from a pandemic that hasn't happened yet. Profits at the expense of poorer nations' ability to lay in stocks of the drug. You know, the poorer nations where people still farm and still live with their ducks, geese and pigs. Poorer nations that are likely to be the spawning ground for the next influenza pandemic.

I should probably be beyond amazement at this sort of behavior. But I'm not. It still stinks, no matter how Roche wraps it in a gown of "preparing for disaster." It's corporate piracy, pure and simple.

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