Coronavirus: NHS is 72 but drugs companies are still rinsing the system

How the pandemic is exposing the priorities of our capitalist rulers.

Comrade Ranjeet Brar (@Rango1917), leading British communist and NHS surgeon, talks to George Galloway on his Mother of All Talk Shows (MoATS), discussing the many ways in which the pandemic is exposing the true priorities of the capitlist system and its rulers.

In the week that marked the 72nd birthday of the NHS, Ranjeet points out that it is ongoing privatisation that is responsible for the failures of our health system and government policy, hugely increasing the devastation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. He reminds viewers to watch Dr Bob Gill’s excellent film about the privatisation of the NHS, which dissects the mechanisms and results of privatisation with unparalleled precision and honesty.

Ranjeet highlights the case of the US purchasing every unit of Californian drug company Gilead’s Covid-19 drug, explaining that this is typical of the capitalist approach to healthcare. This act demonstrates the US’s arrogance, assuming the right to corner resources for itself, no matter what need others might have. And it exposes how the pharmaceutical industry is motivated by profit, not by the health of the population.

Ranjeet draws attention to the fact that Gilead’s share price has significantly increased during this pandemic, precisely because there were expectations for the drug in question. Gilead was keen to obtain orphan status for the drug, a status that the company will be the only one allowed to produce it for a period of seven years.

Orphan status is usually applied in exceptional circumstances to drugs for very rare diseases, but a world pandemic can hardly be classified as a rare disease! These massively lucrative pharmaceutical enterprises are solely concerned with maximising their profits from the pandemic, not with the best way to tackle the health emergency.

This discussion was originally broadcast on Sunday 5 July 2020.