Published on Counterpunch.org, by ROBERT WEISSMAN, Dec. 29, 2008.
What a year for corporate criminality and malfeasance! As we compiled the Multinational Monitor list of the 10 Worst Corporations of 2008, it would have been easy to restrict the awardees to Wall Street firms. But the rest of the corporate sector was not on good behavior during 2008 either, and we didn’t want them to escape justified scrutiny. So, in keeping with our tradition of highlighting diverse forms of corporate wrongdoing, we included only one financial company on the 10 Worst list. Here, presented in alphabetical order, are the 10 Worst Corporations of 2008:
1. AIG: Money for Nothing: … / 2. Cargill: Food Profiteers: … / 3. Chevron: We can’t let little countries screw around with big companies: … / 4. Constellation Energy: Nuclear Operators: … / 5. CNPC: Fueling Violence in Darfur: … / 6. Dole: The Sour Taste of Pineapple: … / 7. General Electric: Creative Accounting: … / 8. Imperial Sugar: 14 Dead: … / 9. Philip Morris International: Unshackled …
… and 10. Roche – (a big plant in Switzerland/Basel producing medicaments): “Saving lives is not our business”: The Swiss company Roche makes a range of HIV-related drugs. One of them is enfuvirtid, sold under the brand-name Fuzeon. Fuzeon brought in $266 million to Roche in 2007, though sales are declining.
Roche charges $25,000 a year for Fuzeon. It does not offer a discount price for developing countries.
Like most industrialized countries, Korea maintains a form of price controls – the national health insurance program sets prices for medicines. The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family Affairs listed Fuzeon at $18,000 a year. Korea’s per capita income is roughly half that of the United States. Instead of providing Fuzeon, for a profit, at Korea’s listed level, Roche refuses to make the drug available in Korea.
Korean activists report that the head of Roche Korea told them, “We are not in business to save lives, but to make money. Saving lives is not our business” (full text).