Budget cuts fuel protests
19.07.2012 - On the Iberian Peninsula opposition against the drastic budget cuts is forming. Big pharma is not immune from the cuts.
The Spanish R&D budget for 2012 has been slashed to 75% of last year’s value. Although the Spanish secretary of state for research, Carmen Vela, defends the plan saying that the „system is oversized and Spanish science could do more with less“, the affected sector howls in disagreement. „Excellence costs money and we will not reach it by shrinking investment“, says Carlos Andradas. Andradas is the president of the Confederation of Spanish Scientific Societies (COSCE). Together with other reputable science organisations in the country, COSCE demands the European Parliament to take action. In a letter sent to European Parliamentarians at the beginning of June, the Spanish scientists draw a comparison to Europe’s power in the economy: „The European Union is issuing recommendations on economic matters that governments take very seriously. We would like to hear recommendations on R&D spending as well“, says Andrades. So far no reactions from Strasbourg have been noted.
Portuguese healthcare is contending with different weapons. Last week, doctors and nurses went on a two-day workout with only emergency services left unaffected. The government’s actions to shrink its budget deficit threaten the quality of the healthcare system, say the unions. Reformers seem to get caught in crossfire as international pharma and chemistry businesses also raise the pressure. Merck KGAA from Darmstadt (Germany) warned the Portuguese government on 9 July that planned research projects worth €2m could be cancelled if the hospitals do not stick to the settlements regarding the liquidation of debts. According to information from the German newspaper FTD, the Portuguese hospitals alone owe the pharma industry about €1.5bn. Companies have to wait on average 550 days until their bills are cleared.