An article by Sincerity Agency in today’s Kent on Sunday (Page 34) on Pfizer and the Third World for Kent:
I'm on a business drive a the moment so any clients interested in marketing interesting products in an interesting way to interesting people please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Especially if you're Standard Chartered, HSBC, Saga, Pfizer, CCU, Kent Uni, Canterbury Cathedral and Eurotunnel.
The longer draft is:
Pfizer’s dead. Viva Viiv?
Tim Garbutt details what the recent announcements at Pfizer can mean for Kent and the Third World.
It’s perhaps ironic that 2011 ushers in the United Nations International Year of Chemistry. And then Pfizer announces the closure of the largest US pharmaceutical plant in Europe here in East Kent. When they should be burning brightly, the bunsen burners of Kent are turned low.
Clearly the loss of upwards of 3,000 jobs will prove devastating not only to Kent but the wider pharmaceutical industry. With Kent relying on over 40% of its economy from the public sector tax-economy Pfizer and its success with Viagra has been one of the few bright spots in the larger private sector.
A reliance on tax-construction projects and the closure of Glaxo Dartford could mean that Kent becomes almost totally reliant on small business and tax-grants from Whitehall. It will be a shocking turnaround if Kent becomes reliant on Government to the extent of some of the Midlands manufacturing bailouts such as British Leyland and Rover or decimated 1970’s North regeneration failures of Sunderland, Middlesboro, Belfast etc.
Yet does the economic earthquake at Pfizer herald a brighter future? For too long Big Pharma has been reliant on mega-mergers such as Wyeth, mega tax-breaks and unprofitable, minor vaccine variants for relatively minor First World ailments such as Viagra.
A cursory glance at Pfizer, South Africa shows that even there with a boiling infection rate from HIV the main research procedures are for arthritis and athlete’s foot. Hardly the most important needs in Africa with over 80% of AIDS and Malaria cases.
Does a “Pfizer 2” in Kent provide a more strategic opportunity for growth?
Take Viiv. Already a joint venture between Pfizer and Glaxo to develop HIV drugs.
And with spectacular results with only modest emphasis so far: 19% of the HIV market and c.£1.6Bn in sales – with an £11Bn market just in Western Europe. And still only a modest 15% investment by Pfizer USA itself.
Considering the business of disease, the one market to be in is HIV. The burning growth across sub-Saharan Africa shows no sign of abating, and barely 20% of the affected population have full access to medicines - and a market potential across Africa, Asia and the Americas of over 20% of the globe’s population.
And not just immediate vaccinations but ongoing retroviral treatment for year after year. And research for pills, jabs and wipes refinements.
And, without profiteering from someone’s misery, I’d wager a better market opportunity for Big Pharma with 33M people living with HIV already than another formulation of athlete’s foot powder.
But how do HIV drugs pay when the nations affected are the poorest on earth I hear you cry - as you put down your toast made from Russian wheat, Turkish butter, Indian milk and jam from Peruvian strawberries and Guatemalan sugar?
The game’s changed. The UN Millennium Goals including halving Malaria, HIV and TB by 2015 are definitive international policy for all the world’s governments and organisations.
While the 2001 Doha Summit by the World Trade Organisation, including the UK, can compel pharma companies to share copyright tweaks on infectious diseases and provide vaccines.
In effect, the “NHS clause” of the WTO TRIPS copyright agreement is to provide medicines to those in need – and compensate the companies as needed. Much as Salk refused to take an exclusive copyright for the polio vaccine as it was a “global good”.
While funds provided by a mix of the World Bank, IMF and macro-regional and State treasuries are already a part of the UNMDG to, in effect, create a “Marshall Plan for Africa” - whether by government directly or partners such as the Gates Foundation.
The issue is not if vaccines will be produced to end these nineteenth century diseases - killing upwards of 7M people each year, the population of the whole of South East England gone each and every year - but rather how quickly. Certainly within 20 years and probably within 10. Kent’s public and politicians can and should take Pfizer off life-support and go for growth.
Simply put, the world’s Treasuries can print (OK, a line adjustment in a spreadsheet) over £4,000Bn of tax-funds for the bank bailouts, and £955Bn just in the UK according to the NAO. This is more money provided in 3 years than has ever -that’s ever - been provided in Third World aid. Clearly nothing but political will can prevent vaccines being provided from Kent – and at a production profit – to the Third World.
Indeed the cost of achieving all the UNMDG by 2015 is estimated at only £50Bn.
And here in Kent there may be self-interest in supporting vaccines as, in the Age of Climate Change, the malaria outbreaks of the Kent marshes before WW1 may well reoccur with hotter summers and viral diseases from increased flooding. While London has recently been described by the NHS as the “TB capital of Europe” for increased cases. And there’s even a doubling of HIV infections in the Saga generation of over-50’s – no doubt casting wrinkly caution to wind before the Viagra goes and the Grim Reaper arrives.
Even with diseases that have almost been eradicated such as polio by your local Rotary Club with only 41 cases in India last year – produced in labs at Pfizer Kent from the 1960’s and I’ve still got my polio jab on my right arm as I’m sure you have – or smallpox there would be a strategic need for vaccine production in case of a renewed outbreak.
While a globalised world requires a scaling-up of ongoing vaccine investment - just look at the spread of bird flu, swine flu and even foot and mouth disease here in Kent - in a strategic vaccine facility. It’s notable that the recent Wikileaks highlighted US strategic interests in Europe as not nuclear reactors or arms dumps, but Italian factories producing the smallpox vaccine.
While R&D linkups with say the Liverpool School of Tropical Diseases – in a regeneration area much like Coastal Kent - would provide jobs, skills and research into the next phase of UNMDG diseases eg Chagas and Dengue, and provide the research and manufacturing muscle into the last few real UK ailments such as cancers, and cholesterol.
Perhaps what I’ve described in my Mayoral campaign (Google “Time for Change Kent”) here in East Kent as “Third World Thanet” with the abuses of companies such as Infratil, KCC and Thor and shocking cancer and mortality rates can be reversed into a thriving hub built around Third World need and support.
This Xmas has shown once again how unprepared we are with low stocks of even common flu vaccine so surely the impetus for Kent should be a “Farm and Pharma” strategic drugs facility – perhaps this time a UK Gov Plc bailout ought to buy-up and safeguard all the land and plant – and little-known UNESCO Pegwell Bay coastal reserves protected by Pfizer as a good neighbour.
And seize the opportunity in developing “Pfizer 2” with a mix of Viiv and investment for vaccines and wider Third World requisites such as malaria nets, vitamins, condoms, birth control pills and local Kent water filters (www.aquaread.co.uk) – as well as the UK’s own strategic vaccine needs for future generations.
We may be witnessing not the decline and fall of Pfizer and Viagra but the rise of Pfizer 2, Viiv - and East Kent standing prosperous, proud and erect once more.
Tim Garbutt is the Managing Director of Sincerity Agency the leading green and ethical advertising agency (www.sincerityagency.com) based in East Kent and is standing as an Independent Green Mayor for Ramsgate to “Stop the Pollution, Stop the Corruption, Stop the Construction” in May 2011: http://lovekentloveramsgate.blogspot.com/