Segments in this Video

BIG Pharma (02:01)


There are 10 multinational companies that control pre-tax profit of $205 billion in 2004. We learn of the ten most widely-sold medicines in the world.

Trade Agreements (03:10)

Geneva is the financial hub of Europe and the headquarters for all of the international organizations that deal with pharmaceuticals. We learn about the role of the WTO in world trade agreements and pharmaceutical regulations.

Infectious Diseases (01:29)

Five infectious diseases that kill the most people each year are pulmonary diseases, AIDS, diarrhea, TB, and malaria. of these, 85% of these deaths occur in the Southern Hemisphere. Profits drive drug availability and affordability.

Multinationals vs. Billions of People (04:23)

TRIPS has imposed a regime of intellectual property dominant in the US and Europe on the entire world. Viewers learn about the power of patents to side-step competition, allowing multinationals to hold monopolies on pharmaceuticals.

U.S. Patent Circumvention (02:05)

The U.S. had a difficult time regulating TRIPS in the case of Bayer's patent on the only drug that could be used against anthrax. The U.S. approved the adoption of two generic drugs that could also be used against anthrax.

WHO Interpretation (02:36)

WHO released a document that supported a looser interpretation of the TRIPS policy. Viewers learn about parallel imports, compulsory licenses

Workers of the World (01:47)

East Indian workers wash laundry; Southeast Asians work in the rice paddies; a modern city extends to the horizon; dwellings are packed together in slums; Mozambique is crowded with few doctors. Viewers learn demographic statistics of each country,

Commercial Interests vs. Public Health (01:49)

Protesters flood the streets of Pretoria in support of government policies that allow generics or cheaper drugs into the country.

TRIPS Constrictions (01:44)

In India, a TRIPS addendum prohibits a private individual from arguing in a domestic court that any law in any country is not TRIPS compliant. This policy will affect all drugs entering India and make public access more difficult. In 2005 the Indian government won its case against Novartis.

Drug Monopolies vs. Self- Sufficiency (03:21)

India is the main producer and exporter of high quality generic drugs. Countries in the Third World cannot afford drug monopolies to operate.

HIV Positive Family (04:03)

By 2015, very few Indians will be able to afford life-saving drugs. Viewers see Indian alleyways and inside slum dwellings. A widow and her three children are HIV-positive. No one helps her financially. She dies of AIDS-related infections.

HIV/AIDS (02:42)

The impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa causes millions of deaths and deals a harsh blow to already-fragile economies. A man runs towards a burning car. A young mother who is HIV-positive lost her infant to AIDS.

Pregnancy and AIDS (01:42)

Pregnant women in Africa who are infected with AIDS often take drugs only until their babies are born. They cannot afford to maintain themselves on HIV medicine, so their risk for early death is very high.

Pharmaceutical Profits (03:14)

The pharmaceutical sector made "colossal profit margins" in the 1990s. The industry rationalizes these profits. Companies circumvent patent laws by obtaining multiple patents. Archival film footage

Commercial Marketing for DDT (01:32)

Archival film footage shows the value of DDT. People spray in their homes, on animals, flowers, and no one wears protective gear.

Malaria: Disease of the Third World (03:37)

Worldwide, hundreds of millions of people have malaria, and most of these cannot afford the medicine that would cure them. Viewers learn the challenges of drug distribution.

Government Intervention Needed (02:15)

In Kenya, government needs to clearly say what its priorities are. In South Africa, 6.5 million people are afflicted with AIDS. Public funded research must be free. Indians must be allowed to make their own vaccines.

Drug Use Manipulation (04:10)

Britain made the assumption that public health and the pharmaceutical industry were positively linked. Medical tolerances were manipulated so that more people were classified with medical problems. Examples of this include blood pressure and hyperactivity drugs.

African Dancers (00:54)

Young Africans dance to drum music.

Credits: Health for Sale (02:38)

Credits: Health for Sale

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Health for Sale

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Are the world's largest drug firms, paradoxically, major obstacles to creating a healthier world? This program examines the business ethics of Big Pharma, the ten pharmaceutical companies whose pretax profits were more than the combined take of the 490 other Fortune 500 companies but which spend comparatively little on the health needs of the developing world. Spokespeople for the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and from WHO debate the impact of drug companies’ patenting, pricing, and product development strategies on global public health, with topics that include the TRIPS agreements and “astroturfing” tactics that convince doctors to recognize new diseases that require new medications. Contains brief nudity. (52 minutes)

Length: 53 minutes

Item#: BVL49800

Copyright date: ©2007

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

“Takes extremely complex issues involving intellectual property, access to medicines, and the shaping of health research priorities and provides a morally disturbing and yet balanced view of the impact these issues are having on the lives of millions of vulnerable people around the globe.”  —Heinz Klug, Professor of Law, University of Wisconsin

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