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Letters

Letters: Big Pharma will always put profits before ethics

A Big Issue reader reacts to the ‘unethical combination’ of health and capitalism, calling for urgent legislation banning Pharma monopolies

In this week’s Letters, one reader reacts to the ‘unethical combination’ of health and capitalism across the world

Big Issue readers react to articles on the influence of Big Pharma, the Rugby World Cup and the former home secretary’s proposition to restrict tent use by the homeless.

Unethical combination

In his health article recently [Issue 1587, 23 October], Nick Dearden highlights the influence of Big Pharma on creating and selling the vaccines that ‘saved’ the world from COVID-19. Corporations such as Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna were making profits at the rate of $1,000 per second! Such figures are obscene but what is truly sickening was the refusal of these companies to share their knowledge with countries that struggled to produce a version for their citizens, creating ‘vaccine inequality’.

Such a stance is not surprising; Big Pharma will always put profits before ethics. A prime example is the Sackler family aka Purdue Pharma. Their role in the OxyContin crisis was unearthed by New Yorker journalist Patrick Radden Keefe. It is a story of greed, corruption and death (hundreds of thousands of deaths) where the Sacklers are never held to account let alone indicted for their crimes, which enabled every member of the family to fade away with a tarnished name but their individual fortunes intact.

Just like Johnson & Johnson, Purdue Pharma used small changes to its product to apply for ‘new’ patents and extend its ownership over OxyContin. It is heartening to hear of victories over such practices in countries such as India, South Africa and Colombia. We need urgent legislation that bans pharma monopolies so that health systems are controlled for the benefit of ordinary citizens.

Mike Hobbins, Woking, Surrey

Simon’s photograph of a rainbow

Rainbow’s end

I recently experienced a moment that can only be described as a poignant juxtaposition of hope and despair. In the aftermath of a storm, I photographed a rainbow – a universal symbol of hope and serenity. Its end appeared to cradle a tent sheltering a rough sleeper, a stark reminder of the grim reality faced by many.

This image symbolises my firm opposition to the proposition by the former home secretary, to restrict tent use by the homeless. It risks penalising the vulnerable for their plight, essentially criminalising the very act of seeking shelter.

In a time when private rents soar, evictions increase and the cost of living crisis intensifies, it’s crucial to recognise that homelessness is not a choice but a circumstance often borne of systemic failure. The government’s approach should not be to outlaw the meagre shelters that provide some respite to those in need but to create solutions that address the root causes of homelessness.

By considering fines for charities offering tents, we risk losing our humanity and the community spirit that holds us together in times of adversity. Until we can ensure that everyone has access to proper housing, we must protect, not prohibit, the provision of basic shelter.

I implore our leaders to focus on constructive policies that secure housing for all. Let us not turn our back on those in need, but uphold the rainbow as a promise of better days.

Simon Vaughan, Hilsea, Portsmouth

Wayne’s world

Wayne Barnes, the rugby referee in the World Cup final that John Bird mentioned [Issue 1589, 6 November], is indeed a nice bloke. My wife knows him well from her days as a physiotherapist at London Welsh RFC. However, Wayne has ceased refereeing, in no small part due to the death threats he and his family have received. Sport may be a wonderful spectacle but the unkind and uninformed can ruin it for everyone. I wish Mr Barnes well in the future. He is a loss to rugby.

James Marshall, Elmside, Devon

Good Will

I have been a subscriber since lockdown and sometimes get a bit behind with my Big Issues… I’m finally getting around to writing to congratulate Will Payne, vendor/ article writer extraordinaire on his brilliant piece about the Tory and Labour Party Conferences [Issue 1587, 23 October]. I laughed out loud at his comparison of the two – one feeling like going to Alcatraz and the other like going to a gig. Guess which was which?! The reference to Priti Patel and Nigel Farage, and a certain very tall gentleman being the MP for NE Somerset “and the 18th century” also had me in stitches.

Apart from the many laughs, the article was so readable and full of keenly observed comments. Such witty insightful writing – might Will become a regular contributor?

Christine Thomson, Edinburgh

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