Roche: “Saving Lives Is Not Our Business”
The Swiss company Roche makes a range of HIV-related drugs. One of them is enfuvirtide, sold under the brandname Fuzeon. Fuzeon brought in $266 million to Roche in 2007, though sales are declining.
Roche charges $25,000 a year for Fuzeon. It does not offer a discount price for developing countries.
Like most industrialized countries, South Korea maintains a form of price controls. The national health insurance program sets prices for medicines, and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family Affairs listed Fuzeon at $18,000 a year. South Korea’s per capita income is roughly half that of the United States. Instead of providing Fuzeon at South Korea’s listed level—and still turning a profit—Roche refuses to make the drug available in South Korea.
South Korean activists report that the head of Roche Korea told them, “We are not in business to save lives, but to make money. Saving lives is not our business.”
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