Apart from Layoffs, Higher Drug Prices Feared in Pfizer Buyout of Wyeth

MANILA — Apart from the threat of massive retrenchment, global pharmaceutical giant Pfizer’s buyout of rival Wyeth would also result in higher drug prices as the giant firm would further control the drug industry.

This was the contention of Wyeth workers and the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), who recently held their seventh picket-protest at Wyeth’s Makati office since August. The 400-strong Wyeth Philippines Progressive Workers Union (WPPWU) criticized the looming buyout that will give rise to a much bigger corporation that will end the existing competition between two major players in the drug industry worldwide.

“While we risk losing our jobs and the recognition of our union and CBA gains, the whole world braces for a stronger drug monopoly that will bring up the prices of medicines even as the state of health services in many countries deteriorate,” said Jun San Juan, WPPWU president.

“Mergers and buyouts are simply designed to cut back on workforce and to consolidate resources, all in the name of profit maximization and bigger market control,” he added.

Kilusang Mayo Uno Chairperson Elmer Labog said both Pfizer and Wyeth are guilty of predatory pricing in many countries. “We may expect the resulting company from the buyout to implement far abusive pricing schemes that will render medicines even more inaccessible to the poor.”

“This is a struggle that involves not just Wyeth and Pfizer workers. This is a struggle that calls for the support of the people against monopoly-capitalists,” Labog said.

Massacre of Jobs

San Juan said they launched their seventh picket Friday, its largest so far, involving all of its members this time, over the management’s continued refusal to talk with workers and draft a transition agreement guaranteeing zero job cut as well as union and CBA recognition. At least 3,000 local workers of both US-based companies risk losing their jobs in the looming buyout.

“We call on our colleagues in Pfizer Philippines to unite with us in this just struggle to defend jobs and trade union rights,” said San Juan.

KMU, meanwhile, denounced the labor department’s continued inaction on the new wave of job cuts facing workers of Wyeth, Pfizer, the privatized North Harbor and Philippine Airlines.

“In these critical times for workers, the Arroyo regime is facilitating the retrenchment of workers by big corporations rather than protecting our interests,” said Labog. (Bulatlat.com)

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