Nothing wrong if Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech ‘profiteer’
Narendra Modi government is guilty of adopting an anti-profiteering stance on corona vaccination but so are public health activists
Mahesh Anand | April 18, 2021 2:04 pm
That the Narendra Modi government has messed up big time on corona vaccination is a self-evident truth for everybody save bhaktas. But there are others too who are equally, if not more, guilty for the chaos and deaths that have caused by policy failure. Public health activists, most of whom are pinkish intellectuals, top the list. Their stand that the private sector should not be allowed to “profiteer,” which has unfortunately been accepted by the powers-that-be, is the real killer.
Talking to the Left-leaning website scroll.in, Sandhya Srinivasan, a Mumbai-based public health researcher, “expressed similar apprehensions about vaccine availability in the public sector going down as a result of doses being diverted to the private sector” (https://scroll.in/article/992560/after-the-coup-will-literature-in-myanmar-and-the-irrawaddy-literary-festival-be-the-same-again).
Her verdict was clear: the private sector “should be regulated, and definitely not be for profit.”
Malini Aisola of the advocacy group All India Drug Action Network is also unambiguous about profit-making: “to commercially sell them raises ethical questions.”
In a similar vein, Samir Malhotra, who works at the Chandigarh-based Post-Graduate Institution of Medical Education and Research, wrote in another Left-leaning website, thewire.in, “Profit by itself is not harmful, more so if it is coupled with a genuine product, developed for people, and made available, accessible and affordable. When it comes to the health of people, many experts are now arguing against profit-based healthcare, especially with the ongoing pandemic showing up brutal inequities and inequalities” (https://science.thewire.in/health/covid-19-big-pharma-taxpayer-funded-development-profiteering/).
Notice “affordable.” It’s an ambiguous term: what is affordable for somebody living in, say, Delhi’s Golf Links may not be so for those living in the trans-Yamuna localities. Now if the rich can afford a medicine, shouldn’t they be allowed to access it? As for the poor, the government can provide help; then there are charitable institutions. But why should be a corporation barred from selling a drug at a price the customers are willing to pay?
Further, how can a pharmaceutical company ensure that its products are affordable? They have to pay scientists and employees; they have to spend money on trials and other procedures.
The law of unintended consequences comes into play when professional revolutionaries and anti-business activists peddle their phony philanthropy. It is phony because it invariably results in results that are opposite of their professed intentions—that affordable drugs, vaccinations, medical treatment, etc. Black markets of drugs and oxygen cylinders are already thriving.
And the country is facing the unprecedented crisis because the Modi government—having accepted the activists’ anti-profiteering dogma—decided to check profits of Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech. The government is guilty, but so are public health activists.