Four Dutch Hospitals take on Big Pharma
Revolutions have always fascinated me. When we were students we imagined them to be glorious with people overthrowing dictators and breaking down the walls of privilege and palaces. And then of course the Arab spring came and the Orange revolution …and they went again. But while in Cuba people are in the streets protesting I wonder if there are perhaps revolutions taking place under our noses every day. That we need to look for the cracks in the system more than the ruptures. The silent clashes taking place away from the public eye.
Let me give you an example. Lately my eye fell on an article in the Dutch financial newspaper; ‘four Dutch hospitals are starting their own line of medication.’ Apparently the hospitals are uniting to resist ‘patent’ hijacking by big pharmaceutical companies. Meaning, that when a pharmaceutical company receives licencing for a given drug, the hospitals who developed the medicine in the first place is no longer allowed to produce or sell their own recipe. This is quite common and it drives up health care costs disproportionately. For example a bottle of eye drops for a rare eye disease which was previously made at the hospital pharmacy for 20,00 Euro is now priced 1000,00 after official registration by Big Pharma.
These four Dutch hospitals are getting into the medicine licencing business not to make a profit. No, it’s to keep medicines affordable so they can provide the best care to their patients at a reasonable cost to society. The world has gone mad if doctors have to go into business to live up to the Hypocratic Oath. But I’m so glad they do. And while extremely disruptive it presents an excellent investment opportunity for impact investors to. And yet I find the news on page 20 of the financial paper.
It’s a classic David Goliath situation. Big Pharma. I always sort of imagine them as the bad character you find in an avenger movie; dark sunglasses, a fat sigar and a golden tooth. But of course this couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s mostly just middle aged men in grey suits. And on the other side, the revolutionaries, you have a bunch of pharmacists in white suits. I have to admit it doesn’t make for a great front cover.
But it’s a revolution none the less. It shows that justice can be served to the patients need and not the companies greed. If ever there was a big ‘stick it to the man’ then here you have it. And there’s no one on the barricades, no one shouting, no water guns. No noise at all.
I hope from now on you’ll join me and keep your eyes open to the silent revolutions to.
Original press release: UMCG bindt met andere ziekenhuizen strijd aan tegen geneesmiddelkaping